Thanh Dinh, DPM, FACFAS
I can recall attending my very first ACFAS Annual Scientific Conference and the awe I felt at seeing how many members were there, united by the same objective: to learn together. The lecture halls were filled with attendees, eager to explore the latest advanced techniques and to catch up with old friends and colleagues. The excitement when we all gathered for the opening session was palpable!
As we embark on our annual dues renewal, I am again struck by our community of ACFAS members. During the last decade, our membership has grown steadily by more than a hundred members each year, hitting an all-time high of 7,900 members this year. And more impressively, our members continue to pursue membership in the College, with more than 96 percent of our members renewing last year, even while the pandemic raged and no one could predict what the future held for us. It was a clear demonstration of the power of membership and how we are all stronger together.
These numbers caused me to reflect further on the power of membership and what ACFAS is providing that makes us all continue to come back for more.
As the premiere leader in providing foot and ankle surgical education, ACFAS bravely moved forward with a sold out Annual Scientific Conference this year while keeping all our members and staff safe. We continue to offer virtual programming with more than 300 hours of continuing medical education, 90 podcasts and new initiatives targeted at residency programs who needed support during the pandemic.
But being stronger together also means embracing other organizations that share our vision for building the future for our profession. Since 2018, the Joint Task Force of Orthopaedic and Podiatric Surgeons has worked on mutually beneficial policy goals. The four participating organizations, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS), the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS), and the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), have worked collaboratively to address the goal of equivalency in education pathways and certification. This work will help to strengthen our profession and support future generations as they build careers and practices. The task force is also working together to tackle insurance barriers to ensure parity in payments and patient access to all foot and ankle surgeons.
As our organization evolves, we recognize that preparation for future challenges involves member recruitment and leadership development, to help us navigate the unknown and fuel the growth of our profession by bringing in new voices and experiences. The College’s Membership Committee has embraced this challenge, and in a grass roots effort, is working to partner with industry colleagues to roll out a series of events promoting the role of foot and ankle surgeons to teens in economically disadvantaged areas. It’s early in the process, but so far this community outreach has been a memorable and inspiring experience for both the surgeons and the teens.
As I reflect on the most recent Annual Scientific Conference, I see the many young members who have grown and taken on leadership roles within the College. And I see our members serving as leaders in many other capacities too: within their hospitals, sitting on Boards of other organizations, and at home, in their local community. Our collective commitment to leadership is very encouraging.
To assist our members in realizing their individual potential, the College is rolling out a Leadership Institute to assist and support us in growing our leadership skills while also providing a pathway for future involvement in ACFAS. We have high hopes for this program – that it will facilitate the continued growth of our profession and develop leaders who will work to move our vision forward.
As professionals, colleagues, and leaders, remember we are stronger together.