History of the ABC Travelling Fellowships

The ABC Fellowships were conceived and developed in 1948 by Dr R I Harris of Toronto, Canada during his term as President of the American Orthopaedic Association. Dr Harris believed that because of World War II and post-war difficulties, young orthopaedic surgeons might find it difficult to visit orthopaedic centres in Canada and the United States of America. He was concerned that “they would reach senior positions in England with little knowledge of the state of orthopaedic surgery in North America.”

Together, R I Harris, President of the American Orthopaedic Association, J E Samson, President of the Canadian Orthopedic Association and S A S Makin, President of the British Orthopaedic Association, organised the visit of the first ABC Fellows to North America in 1948. In all, thirteen Fellows and one honorary Fellow from Great Britain visited orthopaedic centres in North America and attended the combined meeting of the Canadian, British and American Orthopaedic Associations held in Quebec City. These first exchange fellows were funded through the combined efforts of the three associations.

In 1949, the British Orthopaedic Association hosted five American and ten Canadian orthopaedic surgeons at orthopaedic centres in Great Britain. For the years 1950 to 1953, the exchange visits ceased, being resumed once more in 1954 under the guidance of J Dickson, President of the American Orthopaedic Association and Sir Reginald Watson- Jones, President of the British Orthopaedic Association. Initially, in odd-numbered years, North American Orthopaedic surgeons selected as ABC Fellows travelled to Great Britain and in even-numbered years, British surgeons travelled to North America. Since 1985, North American Fellows have visited the Southern Hemisphere as well as Great Britain.

In 1954, a Fellow was selected from either Australia, New Zealand or South Africa to take part in the programme in North America, and this involvement of AOA has continued to this day. By 1999, 45 Fellows had travelled from the Southern Hemisphere countries to North America, 19 of these being Fellows of AOA. At first, the Southern Hemisphere participants shared a single Fellowship and rotated their involvement over a six-year period. Later, in 1965 the number of fellows from the Southern Hemisphere was increased to two participants in even-numbered years when the programme took place in North America.

Since 1982, however, each of these three countries may elect to send a Fellow to North America every two years. The name of the Fellowship derives from the initials of the original three participating countries – America, Britain, Canada. It was coined by the original Fellows who travelled to North America in 1948 at a reunion after their return to Britain in relation to a “club” formed by and for the Fellows (the ABC Club). The club has its own tie and all participants in the ABC Fellowship scheme automatically become members of the ABC Club.

Australian ABC Fellows

1954 H R T Hodgkinson
1960 W G Doig
1966 Sir Dennis Patterson
1968 B J Dooley
1972 E H Bates
1974 S M L Nade
1976 W G Cole
1978 J H Rush
1980 A D Sutherland
1982 M D Ryan
1984 D McNicol
1986 S Ruff
1988 B K Foster
1990 B G Courtenay
1992 D A F Morgan and L A Pinczewski
1994 R D Oakeshott
1996 M Sandow
1998 R DeSteiger
2000 J Krishnan
2002 D G Little
2004 Bill Donnelly
2006 M Chehade
2008 R Williams
2010 P Weinrauch
2012 P Yates
2014 P Tran
2016 M McAuliffe
2018 L Johnson


More information

Read about the costs, selection criteria, eligibility, and more.



ABC Travelling Fellowship articles

Read articles from past AOA ABC Travelling Fellows.