by Danny Bonvissuto
Alex Jahangir, MD, vice-chair of Orthopaedic Surgery and director of the Division of Orthopaedic Trauma, received the William W. Tipton Jr., MD Leadership Award at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
The award, considered one of the highest leadership honors in orthopaedics, recognizes active fellows or candidate members whose leadership qualities have benefited the orthopaedic community, patients or the public.
“The greatest honor of my professional career is receiving the William W. Tipton Jr. Leadership Award,” Jahangir said. “I believe many of us who enter health care professions do so to help our communities and our neighbors. Through our training, as well as our innate core values, health care workers lead every day whether in the clinics, the operating rooms, or the Medical Center. This daily practice of leadership makes health care a profession that produces more leaders than most other professions. As such, all of us in health care must be willing to use the leadership skills we have developed to fulfill the initial reason we entered health care: to make the communities we live in better and more successful for all.”
In addition to his practice and his responsibilities as a professor and executive medical director for the trauma patient care center, Jahangir became the chair of the Metro Public Health Department board in October 2019 and was named chair of the Metropolitan Nashville COVID-19 Taskforce by Mayor John Cooper during the pandemic.
“People have questioned Mayor Cooper’s decision to appoint me, an orthopaedic surgeon, as the task force’s leader. But in a moment of unprecedented crisis, the Mayor’s request was a practical and expedient one,” Jahangir said. “My unique value … was that I was already up to speed on the machinations of Metro government relative to the public health department, the department most crucial to managing a pandemic. Also, as a Nashvillian of long standing, I had developed a strong network among leaders from across the city and could bring them together quickly.”
Rick Wright, MD, the Dan Spengler, MD Professor and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, noted, “This is an incredible honor for Alex, but richly deserved as I know of very few orthopaedic surgeons who could or would have taken on this challenge for their community.”
Jahangir was nominated for the award by William Obremskey, MD, MPH, director of the Division of Orthopaedic Trauma Research, who helped recruit him in 2009. Since then, Obremskey has mentored him, been mentored by him, worked with him and worked for him.
“I immediately thought of Alex, as he has been extraordinarily committed to our community, patients and the public,” Obremskey said. “He grew up a young immigrant in Nashville and has always been thankful for the opportunity to give back to our community.
“I had a secondary lens on the efforts that Alex took during the pandemic as my wife, who is a physician and was the director of Community Health clinics across the state of Tennessee, often worked with Alex and some days spoke with him more than me about the management of the COVID response, recommendations, testing and vaccines for the Nashville Metro area. He did not ask for any of these jobs but volunteered in spite of a busy clinical practice and administrative duties at Vanderbilt. Nominating him was a no brainer and a privilege,” Obremskey said.