Published 11/1/2020
Terry Stanton

AAOS Leadership Institute Is Live

Program aims to open pathways to service and leadership positions for all members

The Academy has launched the AAOS Leadership Institute (ALI), a new program available to all AAOS members that will provide training, mentoring, and networking opportunities to those seeking to acquire and refine the skills needed to progress and succeed as a volunteer leader at AAOS.

ALI (“AL-EYE”) is offered in four successive tiers linked to a member’s career stage and current level of involvement in the Academy’s governance structure. Levels 1 and 2, which went online with the launch of the program in late October (see “AAOS Unveils Leadership Institute” in the October issue of AAOS Now), are offered to orient members into the Academy’s culture and resources and prepare them for AAOS committee service. ALI Levels 3 and 4 will be available later in 2021 through an application process for members who aspire to serve at higher levels of service, such as a committee or council chair or on the Board of Directors (BoD).

An essential goal of the ALI program is to extend AAOS leadership opportunities to all interested AAOS members. Because the program will become a prerequisite for volunteer committee service, it provides a clear pathway for seeking higher levels of leadership. It provides a way to be involved, be recognized, and build leadership skills, and it serves as a pipeline for future AAOS leaders.

“Our organization is the sum parts of its members,” said AAOS President Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS. “We believe that each member can contribute to the enterprise based on merit and in his or her own way. We have some people who want to give a lot of time, and some people who do not want to give as much time, but they can all do something. Any organization that has a broad base of volunteerism is stronger for it. We aren’t telling you how you can serve, but we are making it easier to serve in your own way.”

“In order to have a highly functioning Board and organization, it is critical that volunteer leaders understand important concepts such as strategy and governance and master critical skills in setting an agenda, running a meeting, and leading teams,” said Kristy L. Weber, MD, FAAOS, who as 2019–2020 Academy president was a strong proponent of the development of the program. “ALI is a great step toward elevating AAOS.”

All members, including resident and candidate members, may engage in the online modules for the completion of Level 1, AAOS Engagement. The introduction serves as an orientation for newer members, as well as a refresher for any member, whether new or longstanding, and completion of the Level 1 online modules is a requirement to advance to the next levels in ALI.

For members aspiring to involvement in the Academy’s committee and governance structure, Level 2, Foundational Learning, provides a way to learn more about leadership at AAOS, as well as take a deeper dive into topics such as strategic thinking, governance, excellent communication, and diversity. In addition to online modules as in Level 1, completion of Level 2 involves attendance at selected webinars and experiential learning via Annual Meeting attendance and networking activities.

Completion of Level 2 will be a prerequisite for committee service, with accommodations made for members who currently are serving or previously have served on a committee. The requirement extends to resident and candidate members seeking to serve in positions for which they are eligible. However, there are no committee-service requirements to start or complete Level 2.

The curriculum for ALI Level 3, Refined Skills & Experience, to be offered in 2021, will focus on the knowledge and skills that are critical to becoming an effective committee chair. In addition to online learning modules and webinars, participants will benefit from formal one-on-one mentoring with a longstanding AAOS volunteer leader. Enrollment in Level 3 will be selective, and prospective participants will need to apply through the Committee Appointment Program (CAP) to be considered. Among the requirements for applicants are at least two years of previous committee service, and completion will require at least four total years of committee service.

ALI Level 4, also to be offered later in 2021, is designed for innovative AAOS leaders who aspire to the highest levels of AAOS governance. Components of ALI Level 4 will include advanced coaching and mentoring and a personalized program tailored to the development areas most important to an individual’s personal growth. Each year, 10 AAOS leaders will have the opportunity to participate in ALI Level 4. This level will be by application only and only for members who have completed all components of ALI Level 3, including the prerequisite experience and service. Candidates will apply and be selected through the CAP process.

Whether or not you see service on an Academy committee in your immediate or longer-term career plan, all members will benefit from engaging with the three modules in Level 1. Chances are you will discover something you didn’t know about your Academy, including resources and benefits that can help you as you advance in your career. The first module, Navigating AAOS, provides an overview of the Academy and of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which pursues policy and advocacy activities on behalf of musculoskeletal patients and the profession of orthopaedic surgery. This module also outlines the Academy’s Strategic Plan and summarizes its governance structure.

The second module in Level 1, Membership Engagement, describes education, resources, and programs that are available as benefits of membership with AAOS. In addition, this module highlights the value available to AAOS members and shares options for you to be involved at AAOS as a member, volunteer, and leader.

Module 3 of Level 1 provides an overview of AAOS’ wide-ranging and effective efforts in advocacy. Completion of this module will give you a comprehensive understanding of what advocacy is and its value to orthopaedics.

You can enhance your understanding of the Academy and the ways your membership benefits you and your colleagues by beginning module 1 right away and completing the sections at your own pace through self-assessments.

Expanding opportunity and inclusiveness

Some members have asked whether ALI is a replacement for the Academy’s previously offered Leadership Fellows Program. Although the higher levels (3 and 4) of ALI will parallel the purpose of that program by offering intensive guidance and training to those in or aspiring to high-level leadership positions, ALI represents a new and greatly expanded initiative designed to provide access to all members interested in service roles within the Academy, with an equitable path to advancement based on merit and demonstrated interest. The program is designed to encourage and empower participation by surgeon members who may have previously encountered barriers—especially women and persons in underrepresented groups.

The traditional paths to advancement “tended to favor those who knew people,” Dr. Bosco said. “We realize that there are a lot of great leaders out there who may not necessarily have those people to stand up and recommend them, and they were missing out. If you are interested in it, you can enroll—you don’t have to be chosen,” Dr. Bosco said. “Then, as you do the work and demonstrate your interest by putting the time and effort in, you can move on and up the ladder. And in the process, this program helps address disparities that have affected those in minority groups and women. The old way of doing it tended to maintain the status quo. You needed to have recommendations from people who were known in the Academy. This way, it’s a meritocracy. It’s open to everyone, people select themselves, and if you do a good job, then you progress up the chain. You don’t need to be part of the old boys’ club. This will help us address some of the inequities that we also see in society in general.”

Dr. Bosco said he believes that the ALI program will strengthen the Academy by broadening the base of leadership, and he rejects the notion that younger physicians lack the commitment to service within the profession. “There’s dogma now that Generation Xers are not joiners and are not service-oriented. We have not seen that with our physicians. We believe that part of being a physician and an orthopaedic surgeon is putting others ahead of yourself and having a commitment to service. We have a group of people who are highly motivated, smart, hard-working, and who are dedicating themselves to the profession. We are leveraging that to serve the organization.”

Access ALI at aaos.org/LeadershipInstitute.

Terry Stanton is the senior medical writer for AAOS Now. He can be reached at tstanton@aaos.org.