NZOA Past to Present

Pre 2012 NZOA Coat of Arms
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War - A Catalyst For Change

 

Orthopaedic surgery wasn't practiced in New Zealand as a specialty until the First World War.  Early in 1918 arrangements were made for Christchurch to receive the first orthopaedic casualties returning from Europe. Around the same time military hospitals were set up in Rotorua, Trentham and Auckland.

Six men Wylie, White, Mills, Ulrich, Wallis and Gower ran the orthopaedic departments of the military hospitals. In June 1919 over 4,800 service patients were being treated in military hospitals, but by 1922 the number had fallen to less than 1,000.  Civilian orthopaedic surgery then developed from this initial military focus.

Pre 2012 NZOA Coat of Arms
current NZOA Logo
Image of Orthopaedic ward Italy 1945
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Post WW II

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Over the next decade and especially during the Second World War orthopaedic surgery was practiced by a small number of dedicated pioneers working primarily in the main centres.

A large proportion of the orthopaedic work completed in the smaller centres was still done by general surgeons.  During the war years New Zealanders trained in orthopaedic surgery either at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in London or at Oswestry in Shropshire.  After the war these young men returned to New Zealand and swelled the ranks of the orthopaedic fraternity. 

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NZOA Formation

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The New Zealand Orthopaedic Association was formed in 1950 and has been in existence ever since growing in both structure and stature.  The first Annual Scientific Meeting was held at Christchurch Hospital in September 1950.  One of the key issues of concern discussed back then was the low number of orthopaedic surgeons in smaller centres  - and this remains an issue today.

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Orthopaedic Training

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One of the most important Association initiatives was working with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) to develop the orthopaedic training programme (SET).  NZOA administer the selection process and training for successful applicants. Positions are keenly sought for the training which is hospital based, undertaken over five years and has an excellent reputation

There is considerable debate about the number of trainees. When times are booming, there are not enough New Zealand trained orthopaedic surgeons to fill all vacancies and overseas trained orthopaedic surgeons immigrate to New Zealand.  On the other hand when times are tighter our young fellows tell us they struggle to get a consultancy appointment.  

This debate is likely to continue as more surgeons work for longer. Nevertheless demand for orthopaedic surgery is increasing and will continue as our population ages.

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Orthopaedic Research

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Research is an essential aspect of the profession and while scientific observation and practice is very important - so too is the “art of orthopaedic surgery”. 

The establishment of the New Zealand Joint Registry (NZJR) under the auspice of Professor Alastair Rothwell has proved to be of enormous benefit to the development of the art and science of orthopaedic research and the registry has developed an excellent international reputation.

The Wishbone Orthopaedic Research Foundation of New Zealand has been formed from the merger of the Wishbone Trust and the NZOA Research Foundation.  The purpose of the Trust is to promote and raise funds for NZ based orthopaedic research projects.

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International Networks

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Maintaining international networks of orthopaedic surgeons was a founding philosophy of the Association and still is today. 

The carousel of Presidents is an important aspect for every person who takes this role.  Substantial travel is undertaken to attend the annual scientific meetings of these associations by the President or President Elect to develop and promulgate internationally consistent guidelines. This has been one of the strengths of the international orthopaedic community.  Associated with this has been the development of travelling fellow scholarships; ABC Fellowship, Hong Kong Young Ambassador, ASEAN Fellow, Korean Fellow, ANZAC Fellow and ANZAC Travelling Fellow.

These are important facets of the NZOA as they support the development of young leaders as part of succession planning for NZOA management and leadership.

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More Information about Orthopaedics in New Zealand

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Colin Hooker’s Orthopaedics in New Zealand (1996) provides a detailed history of orthopaedics in New Zealand and the development of the New Zealand Orthopaedic Association. 

Please contact the NZOA Office if you wish to purchase a copy.

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2021

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Fast forward and NZOA is edging close to 500 members supported by a small admin team based in Wellington.  

The pandemic  accelerated discussions and systems development around ensuring the Association is working sustainably and supporting diversity.

A changing world feeds innovation and NZOA will continue to advocate & engage in an agile manner to help ensure New Zealanders receive the best orthopaedic outcomes possible.