Issue: April 2016
April 27, 2016
3 min read

Finnish Orthopaedic Association has connected musculoskeletal specialists for 65 years

Issue: April 2016
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The Finnish Orthopaedic Association, a society partner with EFORT that was founded in 1951, works to enhance developments and research in musculoskeletal medicine.

“The association has become the biggest special association in the area of surgery with 643 members,” Juhana Leppilahti, MD, PhD, president of the Finnish Orthopaedic Association (FOA), told Orthopaedics Today Europe.

“The aim of FOA is to connect doctors interested in orthopaedics and traumatology, and to enhance the development and research of the field in Finland. The biggest educational event, 3 days of orthopaedics and traumatology, is held yearly in November. An annual meeting of the association is also held during these days,” Leppilahti said. “In addition, every second year there is an educational course for doctors specialized in orthopaedics in Lapland. Every second January, there is an educational course held in Austria and every second spring a ‘spring event’ [is held] in one of the Finland’s university cities.”

The first Austrian spring meeting was held in February 1986.

Fosters discussion, clinical excellence

According to the FOA mission statement, the organization’s purpose includes fostering discussion among orthopaedic and traumatology surgeons, promoting clinical knowledge in orthopaedics as it relates to patient care, promotion of education through publishing efforts and congresses, and being an authority and leader when musculoskeletal medicine administrative and judicial issues arise in Finland.

The FOA is part of the Nordic Orthopaedic Federation (NOF), which includes orthopaedic organizations from Denmark, Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and the Netherlands.

Markku Järvinen, MD
Markku Järvinen

Markku Järvinen, MD, who was FAO president from 1999 to 2001, told Orthopaedics Today Europe that during his tenure the “NOF was fighting for its survival.”

The 2000 NOF Annual Meeting was held in Tampere, Finland, when Järvinen was FAO president, and it was successful both financially and in terms of the scientific program, he said.

“[It] has been considered an important milestone in NOF’s current status,” Järvinen said. “Moreover, we began, together with Prof. Olle Svensson from Umeå, Sweden, the process of expanding NOF outside the Nordic countries, a process which later led to the joining of the Dutch (Netherlands) and Estonian countries to the organization.”

The 2014 NOF Annual Meeting was held in Helsinki and the 6th EFORT Annual Congress was held in Helsinki in 2003.

Mission of education

Järvinen, who is retired but has been an honorary member of the FOA since 2004, said, “FOA has actively contributed to [and] collaborated with the universities to establish and maintain a formal education structure on orthopaedics and traumatology in Finland.”

Teppo L.N. Järvinen, MD, PhD
Teppo L.N. Järvinen

Concerning the FOA’s educational mission, Teppo L.N. Järvinen, MD, PhD, a son of Markku Järvinen, said, “Personally, I feel all doctors should be engaged in continuous medical education (CME), and I find it particularly important for orthopaedic surgeons in the era when our discipline is going through a massive evolution thanks to the emergence of evidence-based medicine in our practices.”

He said he believes it is essential to hold a scientific meeting in Finnish that includes high-quality, critical presentations. The 2016 NOF Congress is scheduled for 27 to 29 April, in Linköping, Sweden.

Research, publication efforts

The FOA publishes a special publication for members two- to four-times per year — the Finnish Journal of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, according to Leppilahti.

“The members of FOA receive also a publication, Acta Orthopaedica, which is a leading Scandinavian publication in the area of orthopaedics,” Leppilahti said.

Due the small size of the organization and because the interaction between orthopaedic and traumatology surgeons is so important, the FOA places value on partnerships of all kinds.

“The most important partners are Scandinavian-Estonian-Dutch NOF and the EFORT,” Leppilahti said.

Grant support

The FOA activities are funded by membership fees, which are returned to its members in the form of grants that support training courses, post-doctoral studies, hospital visits, etc.

“FOA supports the scientific research with grants through the Finnish Research Foundation for Orthopaedics and Traumatology,” Leppilahti said.

In all, there have been 22 FOA presidents. Branch or subspecialty societies in Finland that have the FOA as their umbrella organization include those focused on arthroplasty, arthroscopy, shoulder surgery, children orthopaedics, traumatology, hand surgery, back research, back surgery, foot surgery and bone tumor, he noted. – by Susan M. Rapp

Disclosures: Markuu Järvinen and Leppilahti report no relevant financial disclosures. Teppo L.N. Järvinen reports he receives grants from the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Sigrid Juselius Foundation, Competitive Research Funds of Pirkanmaa and Helsinki Hospital Districts, and Academy of Finland and personal fees from Amgen (speaker honorarium that was donated to the AllTrials campaign).