The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons provides education and practice management services for orthopaedic surgeons and allied health professionals. The Academy also serves as an advocate for improved patient care and informs the public about the science of orthopaedics. Founded at Northwestern University as a not-for-profit organization in 1933, the Academy has grown from a small organization serving less than 500 members to the world's largest medical association of musculoskeletal specialists. The Academy now serves more than 39,000 members worldwide.
Members of the Academy, called Fellows, are orthopaedists concerned with the diagnosis, care, and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. The orthopaedist's scope of practice includes disorders of the body's bones, joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons. Fellows have completed four years of medical school and at least five years of an approved "residency" in orthopaedics. In addition, they must pass a comprehensive oral and written examination, be certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and submit to stringent membership review processes prior to admittance to the Academy.