Curriculum development: how AO Recon's curricula take shape

AO Recon courses are based on established educational planning processes that are considered to be the standard in the orthopedic education landscape.

An established process

The AO Recon Curriculum Taskforces and Education Forum , in collaboration with the AO Education Institute, have designed globally standardized courses for orthopedic surgeons. They offer consistent educational content regardless of geographic location and allow for some regional flexibility.

The process of designing a course curriculum employs the latest educational theory in a professional and scholarly way using a development process similar to that used by renowned academic institutions to determine competencies for academic learning.

The seven principles of education

The AO has defined seven principles of education that anchor all education material developed by the clinical divisions and unit. Applying these principles in a consistent and mindful way is the cornerstone of the AO’s high-quality education.

Knowing the audience

Knowing the target audiences of a curriculum requires an understanding of both the global needs of joint replacement surgery and the needs for surgical education in the regions. The AO's worldwide access to a significant number of healthcare professionals enables frequent global needs assessments in order to tailor its educational offerings and adapt them if needed. AO Recon was able to take advantage of this knowledge right from the start.

Backward planning

A number of key processes were applied to develop AO Recon's curricula. Driven by surgeons in the Curriculum Taskforces who have deep insight into the subject matter of joint reconstruction and preservation, all processes were supported by experienced curriculum developers from the AO Education Institute. At the outset, a backward planning process is employed.

This starts with a careful look at the patient problems and challenges surgeons face when presented with typical and atypical patients. After all potential problems have been identified, the required performance is described: What knowledge, skills, attitudes, understanding, and beliefs do surgeons require, and which principles and techniques should they master for optimal patient outcomes?

Identify competencies

Based on this, a set of competencies can be defined, including a precise description of each competency: What education should learners acquire in order to attain competence with a particular principle of care? Competencies are the key drivers of any curriculum, and within each identified competency there are a number of objectives (knowledge, skills, and attitudes). With those defined, educational activities can be selected and developed.

Assessment and evaluation

At the end of each educational activity, participants are evaluated on whether they have changed their thinking and to what extent they were able to apply their new competencies in their daily practice. Weaving in elements of assessment and evaluation before, during, and after a course helps optimize the educational approach.

Standardized curriculum

No matter where a course is offered, participants and faculty can be assured that key content is consistently delivered. To accommodate varying regional needs, there is room for local content adjustments, aligned with the international chairperson. For example, course faculty can suggest alternative cases if considered more relevant for the local audience—as long as they serve the learning objectives and address the targeted competencies.

Disseminating arthroplasty knowledge of the highest standards remains AO Recon’s most important mission, and the involvement of best-in-class faculty members is key for successful implementation.

AO Recon's curricula

AO Recon Course—Principles of Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

AO Recon Course—Complex Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty

AO Trauma/AO Recon Course—Periprosthetic Fracture Management of the Hip and Knee

AO Recon Course—Principles of Shoulder Arthroplasty (starting in 2021)

Joint preservation for hip and for knee (starting in 2021)

AO Recon's practical exercises

If the curriculum development process identifies a need to build in skills, AO Recon courses incorporate appropriate hands-on simulation experiences for participants.

Skills Lab: Participants perform specific surgical steps for hip and knee arthroplasty at various stations.

Dry-bone exercises: Participants perform some key procedures on a custom-designed model.

Exercises and dissections on anatomical specimens: Participants perform a complete procedure under high-fidelity conditions.

Preoperative planning exercises: Participants carry out templating exercises on image-based cases.

FacultyFocus 1 | 2021

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