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(L to R): Richard E. Grant, M.D., William J. Robb III, M.D., and David A Spiegel M.D. / Courtesy of American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

2017 AAOS Award Winners

Elizabeth Hofheinz, M.P.H., M.Ed. • Wed, April 5th, 2017

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Whether serving others around the corner or around the globe, this year’s winners of special awards from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) are truly exceptional.

Richard E. Grant M.D. — Diversity Award Winner

Richard E. Grant, M.D., attending orthopedic surgeon in the Department of Orthopedics at Einstein Medical Center in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, is the 2017 winner of the AAOS Diversity Award.

Dr. Grant founded the Black Pre-Medical Society in 1971 at Stanford University…and he was the first African-American president of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery (ABOS). Richard E. Grant, M.D. lived diversity before diversity was “a thing.”

For 30 years, Dr. Grant has welcomed people from all walks of life to step onto the orthopedic playing field. From 1988 until 2001 he was chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

Under Dr. Grant's leadership, Howard accepted more female residents into the orthopedic residency program than any other program in the country. According to Dr. Grant, his approach to educating residents came from his own orthopedic residency experience at the former United States Air Force (USAF) Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

He implemented a military-based, disciplined approach and structure to Howard's educational residency program. As a result, the majority of his former orthopedic residents became ABOS Certified and practicing orthopedic surgeons. Greater than 90% of his residents completed a post residency fellowship in almost every orthopedic subspecialty across the country.

Prior to accepting his current position, Dr. Grant was the first Edgar B. Jackson Chair for Diversity and Clinical Excellence at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, and was an endowed Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Dr. Grant earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University and a medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine.

Asked about the “military-based, disciplined approach and structure” he implemented, Dr. Grant commented to OTW, “My orthopaedic residency took place USAF at Wilford Hall Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. I was the first African American to integrate the USAF Orthopaedic program. My chair was Col. John Eady. He was a very disciplined educator and orthopaedic oncologist who had garnered much from his own residency program in South Carolina and his experience with Dr. Bill Enneking during his oncology fellowship in Gainesville, Florida.”

“We had didactic lectures each day at 6 am and at 6:30 am on Wednesday (grand rounds). Most of the lectures were given by residents based on a very structured core curriculum schedule. The more senior residents were responsible for making sure that their junior residents were on point for their presentations.”

“The Diversity Award means a great deal to me on a very personal level. The award enhances my faith in God. The 2017 AAOS Diversity Award verifies the absolute need for a viable Howard Orthopaedic residency program which remains the only HBCU [Historically Black College and University] oriented orthopedic residency in the entire U.S.”

William J. Robb III, M.D. — Tipton Award Winner

William J. Robb III, M.D., one of the founders of the Illinois Bone & Joint Institute and a reconstructive knee specialist is the 2017 winner of the AAOS Tipton Award.

The William W. Tipton Leadership Award, given to those who can inspire and motivate others to be their best, are rare. The award also honors and celebrates the life, accomplishments and qualities of the late William W. Tipton, Jr., M.D., an orthopedic surgeon, educator and former AAOS chief executive officer.

Dr. Robb has made a habit of serving the orthopedic field, with years of leadership in both professional and volunteer capacities. He has given his time to AAOS, American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation and the Illinois Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Among Dr. Robb’s many accomplishments, one is his role as chair of the AAOS Patient Safety Committee from 2012-16.

According to AAOS, “Dr. Robb reorganized and elevated the orthopaedic safety program through the Orthopaedic Safety Summit in 2012 and restructured the Patient Safety Committee through a merger with the AAOS surgeon and surgical team communications program. Dr. Robb also co-chaired of the first National Surgical Patient Safety Summit in 2016, which brought together more than 100 representatives from surgical professional associations, insurers, large health care systems, payers, regulators, certifying organizations and government agencies. The Summit proposed national surgical safety standards; supports new standardized surgical safety educational curricula for both residents and surgeons and prioritized needed safety research areas.”

“He has held numerous Academy volunteer positions including the Nominating Committee, chair of the Patient Education Committee, chair of the Board of Councilors and Specialty Societies, and secretary of the AAOS. Dr. Robb has served three three-year terms on the Academy Board of Directors in each of the past 3 decades and also served as president of AAHKS.”

Asked about his theory of leadership, Dr. Robb told OTW, “Surgeons most commonly define leadership as a set of patient management skills learned based upon the surgeon’s innate personal traits and clinical experiences. These skills are unidirectional allowing surgeons to direct, control or rule over various clinical problems from the surgeon’s perspective and define surgeon-based solutions. This type of leadership places the surgeon at the center of clinical problems limits input and judgment putting patients at risk of harm.”

“Effective surgical leadership is defined as a set of essential skills permitting surgeons to guide, manage, administer and influence team members to protect patients from harm through the use of a team’s collective strengths while aware of weaknesses to permit optimal team performance. This type of effective leadership places the patient at the center of the clinical problem expanding input and judgment to protect the patient from harm. The surgeon in this contemporary and ‘safe’ leadership model is an important team member with team leadership traits including humility, courage, wisdom, persistence, vision, listener, selflessness, inspirer, communicator, motivator, teacher, insightfulness, builder and strategist.”

Asked about his work on the Patient Safety Committee, Dr. Robb commented to OTW, “The AAOS Patient Safety Committee is focused on establishing surgical safety as both an orthopaedic and national surgical community priority. Education programs for surgeons historically have focused almost exclusively on the advancing knowledge of surgical technology and ‘technical’ skills. Despite a better understanding and use of this ‘technical’ knowledge by surgeons, the total number of adverse surgical events has increased significantly causing harm to far too many surgical patients.”

“Each year adverse events harm more than half a million surgical patients, costing an estimated $10 billion dollars and leading directly to more than 100,000 surgical patient deaths. Each day more than one wrong site surgery occurs in the U.S.”

“The Joint Commission’s analysis of many of ‘Sentinel Events’ reveals that these adverse surgical events are not a result of ‘technology’ failures, rather failures of team performance from inappropriate or inadequate ‘non-technical’ skills most commonly deficient behaviors, leadership and communication.”

“The AAOS Patient Safety Committee supports incorporation of ‘non-technical’ skills education in orthopaedic educational curriculums. This knowledge is not innate or intuitive for surgeons and their teams, rather it must be learned and practiced on a regular basis to improve the safety and quality of orthopaedic care.”

David A. Spiegel M.D. — Humanitarian Award Winner

David A Spiegel M.D., a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and an associate professor of orthopaedic surgery at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania is the 2017 winner of the AAOS Humanitarian Award.

While the arena of American orthopedics is full of wonder and intellectual stimulation, some seek out the orthopedic road not taken. That is the case with David A. Spiegel, M.D., who has improved the life course of numerous patients in Nepal, China, and beyond.

When Dr. Spiegel finished his residency in 1996, he went to Kathmandu, Nepal, for a month and worked with Dr. Ashok Banskota, the founder of the Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC).

And, says AAOS, “…Dr. Spiegel introduced the Ponseti method for clubfoot treatment to the HRDC, and the hospital has subsequently treated more than 4,000 feet with the method. He also has done Ponseti workshops in 5 provinces of China. He has made a number of visits to Basra, Iraq since 2011, and has delivered more than 200 lectures in other countries including Somalia, China, Iran, Mongolia, India and Pakistan.”

“Dr. Spiegel has served on the advisory board of Ponseti International Organization and Miracle Feet to promote global clubfoot care; and on the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America’s (POSNA) Committee on Children’s Orthopaedics in Underdeveloped Regions (COUR), and currently serves on the AAOS International Committee. He worked with his colleagues at HRDC during the earthquake in Nepal in 2015. He has been an active participant with the World Health Organization’s (WHO) “Global Initiative for Emergency and Essential Surgical Care” for more than ten years, advocating for and writing about emergency and essential surgical care and surgery as viewed through the lens of health systems.”

Dr. Spiegel attended Duke University for college, medical school, and orthopedic surgical residency training. He then completed both a research and a clinical fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Asked at what moment during his first trip to Nepal did he know he was “hooked” on giving back, Dr. Spiegel commented to OTW, “I was just amazed at the gaps in health service delivery between rich and poor countries and the challenges of practicing orthopaedics in an austere environment. I just hope that I have, and will continue, to be able to contribute in some meaningful way.”

And when asked what he might say to orthopedic surgeons volunteering abroad for the first time, Dr. Spiegel told OTW, “Listen before you speak, keep an open mind, and try to get an appreciation for the local culture and the context of health service delivery. Understand that there are many ways to solve a problem and that the best treatment is usually contextually defined based on the pathology and its chronicity, the resources available locally including surgical capacity, equipment and implants, and rehabilitation services, and the desires of the patient based on the local culture.”

OTW asked Dr. Spiegel, “So much is made of what the West brings to the East. What have you found that the East brings to the West in terms of orthopedics?”

He responded, “Absolutely. Collaborating with colleagues from austere environments introduces us to the challenges of managing complex, often untreated or neglected pathologies with much more limited technologies, as well as the management of conditions that we see less frequently such as tuberculosis and other infections. We often learn about the natural history of conditions, i.e., what happens when no treatment is provided. These underscore the need to strengthen the delivery of basic or essential orthopaedic and surgical services at the primary referral level…the treatment of complex, neglected pathologies is more expensive, more technically demanding, and rarely results in the same desirable outcomes as with early treatment.”

“I am thrilled and humbled that others appreciate the efforts to improve the treatment of musculoskeletal pathologies and reduce gaps in access to care for so many needy people in resource challenged environments.”

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