27 November 2014

AO Recon Curriculum Development workshop

AO Recon curriculum development

As the AO Foundation's latest initiative, AO Recon has the task of building a course curriculum from the ground up, a wonderful opportunity to create a relevant and engaging program that addresses the educational needs of surgeons.

An academic process

The process of assembling a course curriculum is not one of trial and error. Therefore, AO Education Institute employs the latest educational theory in a professional and scholarly way for all of AO’s clinical divisions and initiatives—using a similar development process to that used by renowned academic institutions to determine competencies for academic learning.

AO Recon’s Education Delegation, in conjunction with the AO Education Institute, has started to design a globally standardized course for surgeons at the end of their residency and advanced surgical training for those already in practice. Once completed, it will offer consistent educational content regardless of geographical location and allow for regional flexibility through the customized combination of optional and required modules.


AO Recon Education Delegation

Seven key opinion leaders from all over the world help to guide the curriculum development, and provide valuable input at all stages of the process. They are known as the Education Delegation, which must build a consensus on the educational content being offered. Its current members are:

  • Jean-Noël Argenson, France
  • Daniel Berry, US
  • Fares Haddad, UK
  • Michael Huo, US
  • Bassam Masri, Canada
  • Youn-Soo Park, South Korea
  • Carsten Perka, Germany


The Seven Principles of Education

The AO Foundation has defined Seven Principles of Education which anchor all education material developed by the clinical divisions. Applying these principles in a consistent and mindful way is the cornerstone of our high-quality education. Note that all education is based on the needs of the individual learner. SEE PICTURE 1

Target audience

Knowing that the most successful educational activities meet the needs of the participants, the first task of the Education Delegation was to establish the target audience for the first AO Recon curriculum. This required an understanding of the global population needs in terms of joint replacement surgery, as well as the learning needs of surgeons within the regional areas. Knowing who the audience will be helps to shape content that best serves that group.

The AO Recon curriculum will target surgeons at the end of their residency and existing practitioners who seek advanced surgical training. This is considered the first stage in AO Recon’s curriculum development and deals with key principles of reconstructive surgery and joint preservation.

Stage two, to begin at a later date, targets more advanced surgeons and includes more techniques and evidence-based surgical procedures.

In stage three, even further down the road, AO Recon would envision expert and consultant surgeons looking at advanced technology, innovation and controversial scenarios.

Backward planning

There are a number of key processes AO Recon applies to produce their different curricula. At the outset we employ a backward planning process. This means we look at the problems surgeons face when presented with typical and atypical patients.

Experienced curriculum developers of high academic standing work with surgeons who have deep insight into the subject matter of joint reconstruction and preservation to investigate all potential problems that could be encountered. They then move on to look at the performance needed to deal with the problems. SEE PICTURE 2

We ask the question: what knowledge, skills, attitudes, understanding and beliefs do surgeons require about certain principles of care and techniques for optimal patient outcomes?

Identify competencies

Once answers to this question are found, competencies and complimentary educational activities can be developed. Competencies are the key drivers of any curriculum and within each identified competency there are a number of objectives which can be broken down into knowledge, skills and attitudes. It is important to ask: “What do we want a learner to learn in order to attain competence with a particular principle of care?” SEE PICTURE 3

Assessment and evaluation

It is one task to establish the content we offer to learners, but at the end of each educational activity we also want to be able to know if, and how, participant thinking and practices have changed.

Weaving in elements of assessment and evaluation before, during and after a course helps us determine if we are on target and if learners have chosen to apply their new knowledge in clinical practice.

Standardized curriculum

There are many benefits to a standardized curriculum: no matter where a course is offered, participants and instructors can be assured that key content is consistently delivered. However, to accommodate varying regional needs, there will be optional learning modules as well.

Chairpersons and faculty are provided with the design of the program and they have the possibility to apply optional content to fit their participant’s needs. In principle the same event should be delivered everywhere regardless of geography; therefore learning and competencies should always be the same.


Interview with Fares Haddad: Facilitating the future of the AO Recon curriculum

What elements of the curriculum design process has AO Recon included that are unique to this initiative?

Normally education taskforces are a small group but we started off with a larger number of specialized surgeons in the Education Delegation. In this group, we identified our target audience and what countries and areas of the world our curriculum would be most appropriate for. The Education Delegation came to a unanimous agreement. Carsten Perka and I were then nominated to continue the process in a following meeting, including two of our resident surgeons. This process has been unique to AO Recon and is working well. The less experienced resident surgeons can really see the challenges through the eyes of a learner, and are able to ask questions and discuss the topic with us, the senior surgeons. The original group of surgeons (Jean-Noël Argenson, Dan Berry, Michael Huo, Bas Masri and Youn-Soo Park) will continue to be consulted and will be provided with frequent opportunities to comment on the curriculum document–they offer good guidance to our working group.


What are the specific geographical areas AO Recon is targeting right now?

We will need to pilot the curriculum and present it to the Education Delegation who may make recommendations before it can be released to the Faculty in the target areas. These are Asia Pacific, Latin America and Middle East. The curriculum development is a standard process. In principle the same event should happen across regions, but content can be adapted to fit individual areas or needs. In principle the competencies and overall learning should remain the same.


Outline the progression of AO Recon learning as it currently stands.

The second meeting of our small group including learners has now produced a template of a two day event with three core modules and two optional modules. The course under construction is targeted at learners at the end of residency, just at the point of becoming an independent surgeon. It focuses on key principles in reconstruction surgery. It is our goal for the future to develop education for more advanced surgeons as well as consultant surgeons.


More Images

The seven principles of AO education
AO's comprehensive approach to competencies
AO's comprehensive approach to competencies

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Globally standardized curriculum

Professionally designed to interactively meet the needs of surgeons


Built-in assessment and evaluation processes

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