AO Trauma Community Development Commission Chairperson Samir Mehta discusses his plans for his tenure

Read more in this interview

02 May 2019

AOTrauma Community Development Commission (AOTCDC) Chairperson Samir Mehta
Samir Mehta at the AO Trauma Davos Courses

AO Trauma Community Development Commission (AOTCDC) Chairperson Samir Mehta opens up about what the legendary AO spirit means to him and how he plans to keep it not only alive but thriving.

How and why did you get involved with AO Trauma?

I started as a resident, unsure whether to specialize in spine or orthopedic trauma, but then I realized I enjoyed the variety of trauma and the out-of-the box thinking that was required. At my fellowship in Seattle, Washington (US), I started to engage with AO Trauma faculty and the AO Principles, brought to me by my mentors. But what really made the difference, was my two-and-a-half-month AO North America John Border Memorial European Trauma Fellowship in Homburg, Germany with Prof Tim Pohleman. There, I really got engaged with the AO: the AO family and the AO tradition. Back in the US, being very excited about what AO means, I joined AO Trauma North America, became AO Trauma faculty, teaching and chairing courses.

What exactly then does AO Trauma mean to you?

AO is different than most organizations, because there is a feeling that may not exist with other organizations. It is the camaraderie, tradition, enthusiasm and engagement of the people around you. Everyone is really focused on ultimately providing and optimizing outcomes for patients. That's what makes it special. It is a culture.

Is the AO spirit something participants can experience in their very first course?

Yes, from my perspective, it is absolutely possible to visit a basic principles course and to walk away feeling the AO spirit. This is where AO Trauma faculty become so important. They are carrying the message. We have to protect this feeling and this culture.

Is this why you got engaged in AO Trauma Community Development?

AO Trauma Community Development covers many things. It is about membership, opportunities for members, and engagement but ultimately it is maintaining and supporting the AO spirit. We talk a lot about the AO spirit. It's hard to measure. But, it is why many of us continue to spend our time with the AO. And AO Trauma Community Development focuses on that.

However, working with that is obviously challenging: How do you measure, build and distribute spirit? It is not as straightforward as, for example, conducting a course, creating a module or writing a research paper.

To get this done is now a big part of my role and I am excited to work on this.

Can you tell us more about how you would like to achieve this in your term as AOTCDC chairperson?

There are a couple of different things I would like to do: 

  1. With the globalization of the world and technological progress, we realize better the differences around the world. We are not a one-size-fits-all organization. The needs of the individual surgeons vary in the individual countries, in the respective regions—and we have to meet all these needs. We have to be an organization that is responsive in order to move forward.
    Looking at each region, each country, each person, we see their uniqueness and want to maintain their engagement and the spirit. Responding to their needs, we want to foster activities on the local level and focus on the chapters.

  2. To promote AO Trauma and to grow our community, I want to launch a "bring a friend" campaign: Bring a friend to Davos, to a local chapter meeting, to any event. Bring someone who values the spirit the way you do. One of the beauties of the AO spirit is that it is collaborative, collegial and focuses on the group. The group is what makes it important. And the individuals make the group. So, if you are proud of your organization, you want others to be part of it. To help people to be proud of AO Trauma, we want to do two things:

    One is talent development: taking our existing membership and thinking about how we can develop opportunities for different levels worldwide. We want to keep the talented and engaged people in the organization, harness their enthusiasm and make them AO Trauma ambassadors. Hence, we will identify and develop those people through our leadership.

    The second encompasses accountability and engagement. We will hold the AO Trauma Community Development representatives across the globe accountable, help them to foster engagement in their region and develop metrics for measuring the success of the AO spirit. We need to better understand the "Why?" Why do people, for example, not yet take advantage of the AO Trauma offerings of interaction, services and education? Or “why do they leave the organization?” With future programs we will better use technology to really understand our membership and do an even better job of meeting their needs.

Let me finish with emphasizing that I am extremely excited about this opportunity. I feel great gratitude to my predecessor, Mike Miranda, who has always been a strong supporter of AO Trauma membership, the AO spirit and the individual surgeons. I hope I can carry that forward in terms of keeping everyone on task and reminding all of us that AO Trauma is a member organization and that it is the members who make the AO Trauma special. 

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