The AO Fellowship Program

Guidelines and application information for the four types of available AO fellowships are included in this section. These four fellowships are:

The AO Fellowship Program (Standard AO Fellowship)
This is offered to surgeons who are in their last year of residency or have just completed their residency training.

The Jack McDaniel Memorial AO Fellowship
This Fellowship is a special and prestigious fellowship given to one North American Resident each year. Recipient is selected annually by an AO North America fellowship committee. The standard AO application should be used for this fellowship.

The Martin Allgöwer Trauma Fellowship
This Fellowship is offered to practicing North American trauma surgeons. One fellow is selected each year, and the fellowship includes all travel and living expenses for up to six months at a European AO Center.

The John Border Memorial Fellowship
The John Border Memorial Fellowship is a unique fellowship offered on an annual basis to one graduating North American trauma fellow who plans a career in academic trauma surgery. The standard AO application should be used for this fellowship.

General Remarks:

Since the AO International Fellowship program was begun in 1971, a total of 4,282 fellowships have been sponsored by the AO. During the past few years there have averaged about 200 MD fellowships ranging from 4 to 12 weeks in duration, plus 20 to 30 fellowships for OR Personnel. A prerequisite for fellowship eligibility is previous attendance at an AO Basic Course. There are currently approximately 100 hospitals throughout the world who accept AO fellows, although due to the high demand for positions, it is not possible to accept every application. The AO also discourages fellowships during periods of the year such as the summer since fellowship hospitals are relatively quiet during this time and supervising surgeons are frequently absent. The AO fellowship covers the accommodation and living expenses of fellows with travel costs paid for by the participant. In recent years there has been a major increase in the number of fellowship applications, especially from countries in the Far East and Eastern European States where there is a great need for instruction in the field of traumatology.


To become accepted as an AO fellow, the candidate must fully complete the fellowship application form and obtain the necessary letters of recommendation. Since preparing for a fellow takes a considerable amount of time and coordination, it is requested by AO International that the application be submitted well in advance (12 months) of the desired time for the fellowship. Due to the large number of applications, AO International has formulated a distribution code which sets a limit on the number of fellows from each continent and country that can be accepted. This facilitates the fair distribution of scholarships around the world.

Clinic Distribution:

A problem that has been increasing lately is the often complicated demand for specialist fellowship training. AO International tries to take these into consideration although such placement is not always possible. Since our primary concern is trauma, those interested in other areas of specialty are not treated on a priority basis. It is also not always possible to assign the fellow to the hospital of his choice since the most popular clinics are often the only ones active in a particular language and specialty. As a result they are consequently so over-committed that alternatives must be sought. AO International does make every effort to place each fellow according to his background, his objectives, his future goals, and his personal wishes.


Language is another problem that we face when placing a fellow. In most of the hundred hospitals which sponsor fellows, German is the working language. In these hospitals, however, doctors in general do speak English, but it is often difficult for the fellow to follow discussions among colleagues or with patients unless he has a command of the language of the country. For these reasons, it is certainly beneficial if the fellow has a basic knowledge of the language of his placement area, or at least a good command of English.

One final point to mention concerning fellowships is the subject of accompanying persons. AO Intemational recommends that the fellow come alone, i.e. without his family; in this way he can benefit the most from the expert instruction and the fellowship experience. Many times having the family nearby is a considerable distraction and the desire to work long and unsocial hours and to be on call for emergencies is often considerably reduced. Fellows must be aware that this is a learning experience and not a holiday! We are extremely grateful to those involved to adequately train a fellow into accompanying him throughout his stay. The reports we receive from the consultant physicians at AO centers and the physicians who take fellowships repeatedly confirm that the relationship is a reciprocal one. If the fellow is actively interested and anxious to learn, he will benefit greatly from an AO fellowship as will the host hospital. However, if the medical staff feel that the fellow has come more as a tourist than to have a learning experience, instruction and discussions will rapidly peter out. In every case, it is of great value to us to receive the honest comments from both sides in the form of the confidential report following a fellowship as this provides a basis on which to evaluate future placements.

Information on AO fellowships can be obtained from:

AO North America
1690 Russell Road
Paoli, PA 19301-0800
Phone: (610) 251-9007
Fax: (610) 251-9059