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Remembering and Honoring Robert W. Metcalf, M.D.

Presentation by Robert Burks, M.D. (left) about the Metcalf/ANNA meeting history of Robert W. Metcalf, M.D. (right)

If you wanted to speak at Dr. Robert Metcalf’s popular and long-running arthroscopy conference, you’d better be able to prove your skills. The innovative and meticulous pioneer in his field was known to peer over the work of prospective speakers in the operating room as they performed surgery. He made sure face-to-face that candidates were up to par before inviting them to speak at the annual Metcalf Meeting. If you didn’t get invited to speak there was always a chance you would be one of the lucky attendees at the meetings to get a scope done from Dr. Metcalf and later return to the meeting!

February 2017 marked the final Metcalf/ANNA (Arthroscopy Association of North America) meeting after 24 successful years. Robert W. Metcalf, M.D. was the driving force starting these annual meetings, creating them as much out of necessity as passion. He is known as one of the pioneers in the arthroscopy field and started giving seminars in 1977 due to high demand of doctors wanting to see his work. These seminars grew and in 1979 they switched over to an annual meeting held at Hotel Utah in downtown Salt Lake City. This first meeting brought in 530 registrants! Popularity in the meetings grew and starting in 1988 the meetings began alternating between Salt Lake City and Phoenix each year.

The Metcalf meetings became known for the latest in arthroscopic education, technology, and technique. The meetings examined modern ideas and provided a place for careers to be shaped and built. Robert Metcalf, commonly referred to as Bob, was a “visionary pioneer and visionary educator” said Dr. Robert Burks at the final Metcalf/ANNA meeting. “Bob was a superb educator, meticulous with detail, and a visionary in arthroscopy” says Burks. He was a founding member of AANA and later became the 3rd president. He suggested a quarterly journal “The Journal of Arthroscopy and Related Research” of which he became the first editor. He explored the possibilities of arthroscopic ACL Reconstruction and suture anchors before they became standards.

Robert Metcalf was a cherished faculty member at the University of Utah School of Medicine. At the age of 54 in 1991 Robert W. Metcalf passed. Shortly after, the University of Utah Department of Orthopaedics Chairman Harold Dunn met with the Metcalf family to determine the future of the meetings. They decided that the University of Utah Department of Orthopaedics would be the new primary sponsors of the event, with the goal to honor Dr. Metcalf by earning an endowed Chair in his name.

Dr. Dunn selected Dick Caspari, M.D. and Marlowe Goble, M.D. to be the primary chairs and organize the new meeting. These two along with Robert Burks, M.D., who was the University of Utah Department of Orthopaedics representative, held the first memorial meeting in 1993 at Snowbird resort. The meetings carried on as they had before and “continued to pick the best faculty, push what was new, and have some fun doing it” said Dr. Robert Burks

In 2009 the Metcalf meeting combined with ANNA and became the annual Metcalf/ANNA meeting continuing until 2017. Throughout its history, 39 seminars were held with approximately 17,000 attendees. In 2013 enough funds were gathered to create an endowed chair that went to Dr. Burks. The meetings always held true by providing the newest in education, bringing the best doctors in arthroscopy, and pushing for was new.