To our Turkish colleagues: "Hoşgeldin!"

Turkey was honored as Guest Nation for the 2011 AAOS Annual Meeting during yesterday’s Opening Ceremonies.

“This is a great honor and a great opportunity to increase awareness of Turkey, not only in the orthopaedic community, but culturally and socially as well,” said Prof. Dr. Mahmut Nedim Doral, current president of the Turkish Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology (TOTBID). TOTBID was established in 1970 and now has nearly 3,000 active members who work as general orthopaedists or take part in a wide range of established specialties.

AAOS President John J. Callaghan, MD, and Prof. Dr. Mahmut Nedim Doral, current president of the Turkish Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology.

In addition to coordinating the activities of local and specialty organizations, TOTBID funds the Turkish Orthopaedic and Traumatology Education Council—an educational arm that oversees residencies and board examinations.

Progress and challenges
One of the greatest challenges for healthcare providers in Turkey, according to Dr. Doral, is health insurance. Government and private insurers cover about 80 percent of health expenditures, but the Turkish government has well-defined restrictions on what instruments and procedures can be performed for given indications, with tightly regulated reimbursement schedules. Any unapproved or uncovered services must be paid for by the patient.

In addition, the distribution and quality of health facilities varies from region to region. Physicians are required to serve compulsory assignments in understaffed areas to be granted medical licenses.

“From the medical doctor’s perspective, hectic work schedules, an excessive number of patients per doctor, insufficient malpractice laws, and inadequate employee rights can be listed as our greatest challenges,” said Dr. Doral. “Preventive medicine is beginning to take hold, but there is still a long way to go.”

The evolution of orthopaedics in Turkey has paralleled developments in the rest of the world, with ongoing improvements in sports and arthroscopic surgery, arthroplasty, hand, foot and ankle, shoulder and elbow, pediatrics, spine, and trauma surgery. Turkish surgeons have already published numerous scientific papers in high-quality medical journals. A number of international orthopaedic meetings and courses have been held in Turkey, and several Turkish physicians have held high-level positions in international orthopaedic societies.

International cooperation
AAOS, in collaboration with TOTBID, has held instructional course programs since 2008, and a special edition of the Journal of the AAOS is available in Turkish.

Dr. Doral is excited by the new links with American orthopaedists that Turkey’s Guest Nation status will forge. His wish list includes a visiting lecture program that would allow for international training with American and Turkish physicians, a series of fellowship opportunities, and more international research collaboration.

“My colleagues will have the chance to improve their knowledge and gain great inspiration by taking part in the AAOS meeting,” he said.

About the Guest Nation Program
The AAOS Guest Nation Program was inaugurated in 2005 to foster greater recognition and awareness of the contributions made to the practice of orthopaedics by orthopaedic surgeons from around the globe and to enhance the robust international flavor and excitement of the AAOS Annual Meeting. Previous Guest Nation honorees have included Argentina, Brazil, Spain, Thailand, and Mexico.

Check your Annual Meeting program for special events and activities related to Turkey and the Guest Nation program. And when you see a Turkish colleague, welcome him or her with “Hoşgeldin!”

Prepared by Peter Pollack, staff writer for AAOS Now.