John J. Callaghan, MD, assumes the presidency

By: Jennie McKee

By Jennie McKee

AAOS President John J. Callaghan, MD, has a strong vision for what the Academy will accomplish in the coming year. Enhancing quality in orthopaedics, he says, is at the top of the list.

“In all aspects of orthopaedics—from continuing medical education (CME), to our Academy, to patient care, and to the Orthopaedic Political Action Committee (PAC)—our quality is good to very good,” said Dr. Callaghan. “I want us to focus on what will get us to the next level.”

John J. Callaghan, MD

A renewed emphasis on quality
Focusing on quality—defined as “the degree of excellence possessed by a thing or person”—is in line with the Academy’s vision “to be the authoritative source of knowledge and leadership in musculoskeletal health,” and the Academy’s mission “to serve the profession, champion the interests of patients, and advance the highest quality musculoskeletal health.”

“The Academy structure—which includes the Council on Education; the Council on Research, Quality Assessment, and Technology; the Council on Advocacy; and the Communications Cabinet—provides us an infrastructure to address many, if not all, of the quality initiatives that affect our membership,” said Dr. Callaghan.

The AAOS Board of Directors unanimously agreed that the Academy needs to actively embrace the quality movement to enhance the true value of the care provided by orthopaedic surgeons, he noted.

“Coming up in our April workshop, we will hammer out the best ways to use our tremendous Academy resources to become a bigger player in the quality movement,” he said. “We want to be the drivers of quality and hope to help engineer solutions to issues important to our profession.”

The crucial role of education
Dr. Callaghan noted that providing quality musculoskeletal care begins with educating orthopaedists and other musculoskeletal care providers. He noted that the Academy is committed to providing high-quality CME offerings that meet the most stringent education requirements.

“At this meeting,” he said, “there are more than 15,000 orthopaedic surgeons and other healthcare professionals who have taken time away from their practices, despite the difficult economy, to better educate themselves so as to provide quality care for their patients. That’s good.

“What will make us great,” he continued, “is to consciously think about what each of us can learn during this week that we can go back home and apply to our practice, our teaching, and our patients.”

He explained that the only reason the Academy can be a leader in the fields of self-assessment and CME is the tremendous relationships and unity efforts between the AAOS and its specialty society partners.

“The AAOS Presidential Line and Board of Directors diligently and continuously work to maintain and improve our relationships with these partners,” he said.

Other priorities
The Academy will have many other key priorities in the coming year, including a continued focus on helping advance orthopaedic research and developing the American Joint Replacement Registry (AJRR).

“The AAOS, through the AJRR Project team led by David Lewallen, MD, has made tremendous headway in making an independent, voluntary, nonregulatory hip and knee replacement registry a reality in this country,” said Dr. Callaghan. “It will dwarf all the other registries in the world with the potential for 750,000 entries in the first year.”

The Academy and its members will also continue efforts to respond to the disaster in Haiti.

“We are incredibly proud of our colleagues who were willing to help people in need,” he said. “That is our profession at its best.”

He noted that the Academy will continue to lend aid and develop resources to support efforts to help restore healthcare provider systems and medical education in Haiti.

Dr. Callaghan will also continue to keep AAOS members informed about important issues related to healthcare reform, as did his predecessor, former AAOS President Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD.

AAOS2009-2010 President Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, and incoming ­President John J. Callaghan, MD

Volunteerism, background

Dr. Callaghan will draw upon decades of experience in key leadership roles at the AAOS and many other local, regional, and national orthopaedic organizations to help promote unity between the AAOS and orthopaedic specialty societies.

At AAOS, he has served on the Annual Meeting Program Committee, the Council of Musculoskeletal Specialty Societies (the predecessor to the Board of Specialty Societies), and the Council on Education. He has also been president of the Iowa Orthopaedic Society, the Mid-America Orthopaedic Association, the Hip Society, and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.

The son of a U.S. Army officer, Dr. Callaghan lived in Texas, Germany, Washington, D.C., and Iowa in the first 18 years of his life. A childhood experience with a broken arm put him on the path to a career in orthopaedics.

“An orthopaedist had to apply a long-arm cast,” he said. “Despite the pain and discomfort, I said to myself, ‘This is what I want to do when I grow up,’ and I never wavered.”

Dr. Callaghan graduated from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and Loyola Medical School in Chicago. After he completed his orthopaedic surgery residency training at the University of Iowa, he completed a hip fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.

He is currently the Lawrence and Marilyn Dorr Chair and professor in the departments of orthopaedics and bioengineering at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. During his distinguished career as a specialist in adult hip and knee joint reconstruction, Dr. Callaghan has authored or co-authored more than 260 peer-reviewed publications. He has also received many honors and accolades, including numerous Frank Stinchfield and John Charnley Hip Society Awards, as well as the Knee Society’s Insall and Coventry Awards.

Dr. Callaghan has been married to his wife, Kim, for more than 25 years. Their son, Patrick, is a senior at the University of Notre Dame and will be attending Northwestern University Law School. Their daughter, Katie, is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in theology and preprofessional studies.

“There’s no question that, over the years, my free time has been spent mostly with my family,” he said. “They are definitely my compass in life.”

Jennie McKee is a staff writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at