Planning for 2021: A Blended Solution to Learning

Learn about our strategies for the challenging year ahead

08 December 2020

Dear AO North America Colleagues,

AO North America remains committed to our mission of supporting our surgeon community.  The health and well-being of our AO NA course attendees, faculty and staff is our highest priority.  

Considering the recent escalation of COVID-19 cases in North America, CDC guidelines, continuing travel restrictions and potential delays in vaccine availability, the AO NA Executive Council developed a plan last week for educational events for 2021.  The Executive Council agreed to cancel large capacity live face-to-face courses until fall of 2021, respecting the possibility of transmission of the disease within or by our AO NA community.

  • 2021 will be a mix of synchronous and asynchronous online events, and small regional practical skills labs
  • AO NA will conduct small capacity (less than 20 participants) events on a regional basis to provide our learners opportunities to participate in hands-on skills labs.  More details will be shared as they become available
  • We will focus on creating a model for effective transition from our pandemic-necessitated online methods to including hands-on practical skills opportunities as a part of the AO NA experience
  • We hope (and are planning) to conduct large capacity face-to-face events starting in fall 2021

Despite the cancellation of the live events, our on-line course offerings have been overwhelmingly successful. Thousands of surgeons globally have participated in dozens of newly designed on-line learning sessions from all our Clinical Divisions, and we are grateful to our AO NA surgeon faculty for their dedication and support of this monumental task. 

The AO NA office in Wayne, PA, remains closed and all AO NA staff continue to telework from their homes. We continue to be vigilant about protecting our staff, and we will continue to telework as necessary.

We realize that there were many surgeons planning to attend the live courses next spring, and many faculty who made plans to teach at those courses. AO NA staff were also ready to support all the courses while accommodating all safety guidelines, but several factors which are beyond our control have contributed to us making this difficult decision.  We look forward to the opportunity to leverage our online learning successes in 2021 and beyond.  

We continue to monitor the pandemic, with the intent of resuming our face-to-face events as soon as we are able.  

Thank you for your ongoing support of AO North America and for your patience and understanding during this challenging time.

James P. Stannard, MD

Chair, AO NA Board of Directors

Amy Kapatkin, DVM, MAS

President, AO North America

Stephen Schwartz

CEO, AO North America


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