25 years of POSNA, 39 years of history

By: Peter Pollack

By Peter Pollack

Although the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America (POSNA) will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2009, its roots can be traced back to a small group of physicians meeting in a hotel room during the 1970 AAOS Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

At the time, it was a novel idea to focus an orthopaedic practice on children, but Douglas McKay, MD; Paul Griffin, MD; and Mihran Tachdjian, MD, were able to put together a list of nine surgeons, later expanded to twelve, that formed the core of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society (POS). The new organization held its first “official” meeting in September of 1971 following a meeting of the Scoliosis Research Society (SRS).

An exclusive group that expanded

In the early days, the members of POS kept their ranks exclusive. Membership was extended by invitation only, and an unwritten policy ensured that each of the well-known pediatric orthopaedic institutions had only one member. By the mid-1970s, a growing pressure to open POS to more members led to the creation of an alternative: the Pediatric Orthopaedic Study Group (POSG).

When it became clear that the two societies were duplicating efforts, they merged to form POSNA. In 1985, the new society held its first annual meeting.

Focus on education, research

Today, POSNA remains true to the goals initiated by its forebears.

“Our main goal is education,” says B. Stephen Richards III, MD, the current president. “Education has become more global over time. The growth of the society has been significant; we now have over 900 members. Probably around 800 of them are North American, and about 100 members are international. We have a strong interaction with children’s orthopaedic societies around the world, in Europe, South America, and Asia. As we’ve grown, we’ve invited them to participate in many of our educational activities.”

POSNA is also expanding its research activities. In 2008, the society funded more than $200,000 worth of research.

“We work with the membership to solicit funds for research,” explains Dr. Richards. “The funding often comes through the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation. We also work with industry to obtain funds for research and educational purposes.”

POSNA sponsors and hosts traveling fellowships with Europe and South America, to give younger surgeons the opportunity to learn from their colleagues around the world. The society also works with other orthopaedic organizations such as AAOS, SRS, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to release information statements about orthopaedic issues in children.

“The AAOS has been very helpful to us over this past year,” says Dr. Richards, “with the development of a new Web site for POSNA.”

A member of POSNA since 1990, Dr. Richards remains enthusiastic about the work the society carries out. He explains that it is a very collegial society with an excellent mission to encourage the progression of pediatric orthopaedics.

“The interesting part about children’s orthopaedics,” he explains, “is the diversity of problems in kids. It encompasses many different areas of orthopaedic pathology. And I really enjoy working with the younger population as well.”

For more about POSNA, visit the Society’s Web site,

Peter Pollack is a staff writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at