Here's what new AOSSM President Dr. Neal ElAttrache has planned for the 'pinnacle' of his career

Written by Angie Stewart | August 08, 2018 | Print  |

Orthopedic surgeon Neal ElAttrache, MD, is one month into his role as the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's president — a responsibility he calls the pinnacle of his career.

Dr. ElAttrache, who is also the co-chair of medical affairs at Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles, spoke with Becker's Spine Review about what he plans to accomplish during his one-year tenure as AOSSM president.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and clarity.

Question: What does it mean to you to be named AOSSM's new president?

Dr. Neal ElAttrache: My professional career has been dedicated to the practice, research and education of sports medicine, and I have been active in AOSSM since my fellowship. My most important mentors were leaders in the society. So, to eventually have ‎leadership roles and become president of AOSSM is truly the pinnacle of my career in sports medicine. I did my residency training at the University of Pittsburgh and then completed my fellowship at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic, where I have also spent my entire career in medical practice. These are two institutions steeped in sports medicine tradition, and I am proud to represent them, their alumni and my esteemed predecessors who were dedicated to sports medicine. It is a great honor to carry on the tradition of leadership in sports medicine and serve the AOSSM and its members in this capacity.

Q: What goals do you hope to achieve during your tenure as president?

NE: AOSSM is rather unique in that we are the main resource for graduate medical education and continuing medical education curriculum for the science and practice of orthopedic sports medicine. Collaboration with the other subspecialty societies as they relate to sports medicine makes this resource even stronger and more inclusive. I would like to enhance this collaboration. I would [also] like to continue the society's work with the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education to enhance and improve the process of accreditation, certification and maintenance of certification for our subspecialty, while making the process more responsive to the [current and future] needs of AOSSM members. By doing this while keeping our education methods fresh and providing strong advocacy for our members, AOSSM will [remain] the most relevant society for our young and future surgeons focused on sports medicine. An additional goal I have is to attract new sources of funding to support our research and education missions and help support our members' efforts in community service.

Q: What are some examples of the type of collaboration you'd like to continue?

NE: AOSSM has collaborated with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and subspecialty societies for several of our educational meetings every year. We have joined with the Arthroscopy Association of North America, American Shoulder And Elbow Surgeons, Pediatric Orthopaedic Society and Foot and Ankle Society to produce sports medicine Specialty Day at the annual AAOS meetings. We also partner with AANA and AAOS in the operation of the [Rosemont, Ill.-based] Orthopaedic Learning Center. In the future, we seek closer collaboration with National Athletic Trainers' Association, American Physical Therapy Association and American Medical Society for Sports medicine to deliver an even more comprehensive ‎educational product to our members and open the doors to collaborative research. Importantly, we would like to enhance the collaborative relationship between AOSSM and the medical industry who have been such important sponsors of our mission. I also think there is great potential for collaboration with the sports-related retail industry.

Q: What is the significance of the society's rebranding in June?

NE: It is important to stay current, relevant and convey an attractive image of our society. The rebranding gave us a chance to give the world a fresh look at who we are at AOSSM and what it means to be a part of this prestigious society. The ways we must educate and support our members is changing, and we at AOSSM want to be on the leading edge of the curve in this regard. The rebranding displays our unity, our diversity and our vibrant nature.

Q: What did you learn as president of the Herodicus Society that will inform your new role as president of AOSSM?

NE: The Herodicus Society was initially developed as an intimate forum where the "up-and-coming" generation of sports medicine surgeon-scientists could debate and exchange new ideas. The society has remained intimate enough that it promotes lively debate and collegial critique of ideas between these accomplished and focused sports medicine experts. The older members tend to mentor the younger members. The society itself is too small to have significant political influence, but its environment develops sports medicine thought-leaders, leaders of AOSSM and sports medicine in general. My experience in the Herodicus environment exposed me to the importance of rigorous standards of science, vibrant collegial debate and mentorship. Your success as program chair and president of that society is tied to your ability to enhance the environment of those three things. I learned a lot.

Q: What are the most pressing issues in sports medicine today?

NE: Safety in sport, injury prevention and the biologic enhancement of tissue healing are significant current issues of scientific focus. This also relates to the study of safe return to sport after injury. Advancements in technology continue to help us treat injuries with less invasive and more effective methods. We must work together with [the] industry to help direct and drive this technology forward in a cost-effective manner. With regard to AOSSM, our challenge is to remain the home of lifelong learning and maintenance of competency in an ever-changing socioeconomic and political landscape. Our most important connection to the public lies in our membership. Ultimately, AOSSM exists to help its members deliver the best sports medicine care possible to patients. We must be a member-driven organization. We must address their needs for education, research and political advocacy. I trust in the nature of physicians' desires. Our future as a society and our ability to help the public relies on our ability to enhance the professional lives of our members.

More articles on sports medicine:
Dr. Neal ElAttrache performs season-ending surgery on Giants' pitcher Johnny Cueto: 5 highlights
Drs. James Andrews, Neal ElAttrache examining Diamondbacks' Jake Lamb — 7 insights
41 of the biggest orthopedic surgeries for pro athletes so for in 2018

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