The POSNA-COUR International Scholar Program. Results of the First 7 Years

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Abstract

Background:

The Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA)-Children’s Orthopedics in Underserved Regions (COUR) International Scholar Program was initiated in 2007 to provide educational opportunities for emerging leaders who treat children with orthopaedic conditions in resource-challenged environments worldwide. Financial support is available each year for 4 to 6 orthopaedic surgeons to attend either the POSNA Annual Meeting or the International Pediatric Orthopedic Symposium. The scholars are also encouraged to visit selected centers for observerships during their trip. Since 2007 there have been 41 international scholars who have participated in the program. We wished to assess the impact of the program and to obtain feedback to improve the experience for future participants.

Methods:

A 23-question web-based survey was created and sent to 38 past scholars from 22 countries who have participated in the program by July 2013. The responses were gathered online and the data were analyzed for the 24 (62%) respondents from 18 countries who completed the survey.

Results:

Of the respondents, 16/24 (66%) reported that their current practice is comprised of at least 75% pediatrics. Twelve of 24 (52%) were fellowship trained in pediatric orthopaedics, typically outside of North America. All scholars found the meeting they attended to be very useful and have subsequently made changes to their clinical practice. Nineteen of 24 (82%) did a premeeting or postmeeting observership. Twenty-two of 24 (92%) participants have remained in contact with POSNA members they met at the meeting, with 86% of respondents stating that they have subsequently consulted POSNA members on management of patients. Sixty-two percent of the scholars had a POSNA member visit them following the scholarship and 29% have since returned to visit POSNA members for further clinical observerships. Twenty-one of 24 (91%) have had the opportunity to share the knowledge they gained with others in their region through lectures, surgical demonstrations, and/or clinical training. A common response from the scholars was that the scholarship program was a truly transformative life experience that provided them with an opportunity to receive the highest quality of professional education. The main challenges that these scholars report are lack of available fellowship/subspecialty training in their region, patients’ inability to pay, and excessive physician workload. All of the respondents expressed interest in arranging a POSNA cosponsored regional meeting.

Conclusions:

Since 2007, the POSNA-COUR international scholar program has been a fruitful resource for orthopaedists practicing in resource-challenged environments worldwide. It has provided unique training for the scholars and has further enabled them to teach others in their region. The program has thus far succeeded in fostering lasting relationships that have led to continued educational exchanges.

Level of Evidence:

Level IV—case series.

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