Joseph D. Zuckerman MD, FAAOS, Receives AAOS Highest Leadership Honor

The American Academy of Orthopa Surgeons (AAOS) presented its 2021 William W. Tipton Jr., MD, Leadership Award to Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, FAAOS.

The Tipton Leadership Award recognizes AAOS members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities that have benefitted the orthopaedic community, patients, and/or the American public. The award honors and celebrates the life, accomplishments, and qualities of the late William W. Tipton Jr., MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, educator, and former AAOS chief executive officer.

“Bill was a special man who was always positive, constructive, and trying to push the agenda forward,” said Dr. Zuckerman. “To be recognized with this award by the AAOS, an organization I have so much respect and admiration for, is an honor.”

Similar to Dr. Tipton, Dr. Zuckerman’s life and career has been dedicated to helping grow the prestige of orthopaedic surgery nationally and internationally, according to Dr. Zuckerman’s colleague Kenneth A. Egol, MD, FAAOS, of NYU Langone Health.

“I cannot think of a better person to personify the qualities of a Tipton Leadership Award winner,” said Dr. Egol. “He is academically, administratively, clinically, and personally an exemplary leader in everything he does.”

Dr. Zuckerman is currently the chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health where he oversees a group of almost 200 orthopaedic surgeons and the day-to-day operations of programs that include orthopaedic surgery, rheumatology, and rehabilitation. Under Dr. Zuckerman’s stewardship, the department has achieved national prominence and received a top-10 ranking in National Institutes of Health funding for basic orthopaedic research.

“Under Dr. Zuckerman’s leadership our department has developed a professional curriculum for faculty and trainees that focuses on interpersonal communication skills, ethics, and an overarching commitment to patient safety,” said Dr. Egol.

Throughout his 30-year career as a practicing orthopaedic surgeon and teacher, Dr. Zuckerman has helped train and mentor hundreds of residents. He was named Teacher of the Year five times at NYU Langone Medical Center, has been awarded the Distinguished Teaching Medal from New York University, and the Master Educator Award from NYU School of Medicine.

“While Dr. Zuckerman is perhaps one of the most accomplished and influential orthopedic surgeons in the United States, his most impressive accomplishment, in my opinion, is how he’s utilized his platform to advance diversity and inclusion in the field of orthopedic surgery,” said Julius K. Oni, MD, FAAOS, of John Hopkins University School of Medicine, who studied under Dr. Zuckerman at NYU. “I don’t think there are enough words to truly express the impact he’s had on me and so many others.”

Dr. Zuckerman prioritized promoting diversity in the field of orthopaedics by implementing the use of the AAOS cultural competency training materials for faculty and trainees at NYU, and established a Diversity Committee within orthopaedic surgery, setting a precedent for other departments at NYU Langone Health. Dr. Zuckerman has also been a faculty champion to the NYU School of Medicine LGBT Society.

Dr. Zuckerman’s positive influence extends far beyond the walls of NYU. A past president of AAOS, Dr. Zuckerman served as chairman of the Council on Education for AAOS, and president of the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES).

Dr. Zuckerman has served as an ambassador of American orthopaedic surgery in the United States and beyond through the American Orthopaedic Association’s (AOA) North American Traveling Fellowship and American-British-Canadian Traveling Fellowship. He mentored at least 10 faculty members in obtaining similar fellowships that have enhanced the prestige of orthopaedic surgery.

Dr. Zuckerman earned his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. He completed a residency in orthopedic surgery at University of Washington Medical Center and a fellowship in reconstructive surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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