Open Accessibility Menu

Improving the Quality of Orthopedic Care for U.S. Troops

Robert Hunter, M.D., director of the Orthopedic Center of Excellence at Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center, is working to expand opportunities for continuing education for military orthopedic surgeons.Robert Hunter

As a board member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA), Dr. Hunter has been instrumental in developing an annual course designed to provide military orthopedic surgeons with cutting edge, hands-on experience with the latest arthroscopic surgical techniques. Arthroscopy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure on a joint using an arthroscope, which is inserted in the joint through a small incision.

This initiative began in 2010 when the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS) approached AANA for help training their active-duty orthopedic surgeons and residents in arthroscopic surgery. "AANA has provided a once per year course since then-with the exception of 2013 when sequestration made all military travel and training impossible-combining both didactic lecture and cadaveric laboratory exercise," said Dr. Hunter.

"AANA has fully funded this course so it can be offered at no charge to military attendees," continue

Dr. Hunter, who is on the teaching faculty for the course. "This effort has been met with wonderful praise and gratitude from our military colleagues but we are only touching 48 surgeons once per year, which is the capacity of our learning center in Chicago, when there are 400 to 500 orthopedic surgeons on active duty with teaching needs and desires that could be addressed by AANA."

As chairman of AANA's Development Committee, Dr. Hunter was entrusted with finding a funding source that would allow the organization to expand its commitment beyond a once per year weekend course.

"We have been working over the past 18 months to gain access to Department of Defense (DOD) funding by introducing legislation to allocate DOD funds towards physician education with particular focus on arthroscopy," said Dr. Hunter. "As of June 1, we have successfully introduced language in both Senate and House defense appropriations bills thanks to a very concerted effort to gain support from Senate and House members. Although there is a great deal more to do before we can actually expand our teaching efforts, we are well on the way to succeeding with our mission: to improve the quality of care provided to our active-duty troops and their dependents."

In addition to his work with AANA, Dr. Hunter lectures around the world and has published more than 40 articles in refereed journals on sports medicine topics. He sees patients at the HRRMC Medical Clinics in Salida and can be reached at (719) 530-2000.