As he prepared to assume the AAOS presidency at the March 2020 Annual Meeting planned for Orlando, Fla., Joseph A. Bosco III, MD, FAAOS, no doubt contemplated the speech he would deliver in front of a live audience, outlining his goals, priorities, and overall philosophy as the new leader of the Academy.
Then, a baffling but clearly fierce pandemic blindsided the world and walloped the U.S. healthcare system. The 2020 Annual Meeting was canceled just weeks before it was scheduled to occur, and Dr. Bosco’s speech was shelved.
On Thursday, at the Your Academy session here in San Diego, Dr. Bosco finally delivered his speech to a live audience. He explained how the COVID-19 pandemic tested the AAOS and the profession to its very limits, revealing how the underlying values and strengths of the organization fortified its rise to the occasion.
“There is nothing like a crisis to reveal one’s true mettle,” Dr. Bosco said. “Over the last 18 months, the pandemic presented us with unforeseeable challenges. We met and bested each one.”
As he had emphasized from the earliest days of the pandemic, the physicians of AAOS would respond as healers for whom patient health is paramount. At the same time, however, AAOS’ many initiatives and activities establish it as a trusted leader in advancing musculoskeletal health.
“We never ceased serving the public,” Dr. Bosco said. “When we were told we had to stop performing elective surgeries, we continued to provide emergency treatment, and many of us even volunteered on the COVID-19 wards. We never wavered from our commitment to our patients, and the Academy never wavered from its commitment to us.”
If the uncertainty of the last 18 months has proven anything, Dr. Bosco said, “it is that the Academy and each member of our profession are made of the right stuff. Our mettle was tested, challenges were bested, and our collective character, forged by decades of service, was revealed. And frankly, our country is better for it. That is something each of us should be proud of.”
Dr. Bosco told his audience that, while they were busy delivering patient care amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Academy was busy performing two distinctive tasks. “First, we worked with state, local, and federal governments to ensure that members had the resources necessary to survive the pandemic and, most importantly, to emerge from the pandemic ready and able to provide the high-quality care our patients deserve and have come to expect.” The Office of Government Relations immediately began advocating on members’ behalf. Through these efforts, he noted, more than 1,500 practices received close to $250 million in federal grants.
Second, and also vitally important, Dr. Bosco said, the Academy continued to focus on its Strategic Plan. “AAOS never went into survival mode. Our mission carried on unabated.” During “troubled times,” he observed, only the strongest, most well-run organizations can continue to focus on their mission. “Our organizational culture—built on a long history of commitment and leadership—allowed our volunteers and staff to continue the work of the Academy and deliver on our strategic plan.” As just one of many examples he provided, the AAOS Registry Program launched the Fracture & Trauma Registry, and the cornerstone American Joint Replacement Registry “enrolled its two-millionth joint.”
The fact that the audience is in-person in San Diego, he said, is a “minor miracle” and a tribute to dedication and expertise of AAOS’ annual meeting team. “In one year, AAOS Annual Meeting Committee Chair Andrew Schmidt, MD, FAAOS, Live Events Director Susan McSorley, and their team converted one Annual Meeting into a completely virtual affair, and had the foresight move this year’s meeting to late August,” Dr. Bosco said. “These accomplishments would be remarkable during a normal year, let alone during the COVID-19 chaos.”
Dr. Bosco also recognized the 2020 Board of Directors, the body he said he had “the privilege and honor of leading.”
On the personal front, Dr. Bosco observed, “No man or woman is an island, and I could not have done this without the support of many, many people. Foremost, my family—my mother, Tina, my sons, Jack and Bear, and my brothers Paul, Tom, and Andrew—who provide me with the love and support necessary to do this job. Just as importantly, they prevent me from taking myself too seriously.”
On the professional front, he thanked the AAOS leaders who came before him and “the countless people who have and have continued to guide me, support me, and shape me into the person I am in the process of becoming.”
He concluded with a reflection on his term: “My year as president was transformational, and I am a better person for it. For this, I am humbled and grateful.”
Terry Stanton is the senior medical writer at AAOS Now. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.