Getting to know: Florian Thieringer
Where are you now and what do you do?
What do your AO CMF roles mean to you?
It's fantastic to be an active part of AO CMF and to have the opportunity to help shape its future a bit. For me personally, AO CMF is much more than a professional society for surgeons. Beyond the strong network, our shared goal is to improve the treatment of patients as well the education and training of craniomaxillofacial (CMF) surgeons. The first time I took part in a facial trauma course 10 years ago, I was deeply impressed by the professionalism of the organization and training, but also by the dedication and involvement of colleagues from all around the world. We are a large, international group and we are not only colleagues, but friends.
“For me personally, AO CMF is much more than a professional society for surgeons. Beyond the strong network, our shared goal is to improve the treatment of patients as well the education and training of craniomaxillofacial (CMF) surgeons.”
Tell us about your role in shaping AO CMF’s online presence.
I am lucky to have been able to team up with Sabine Girod, AO CMF Community Development Commission chairperson. She is visionary and very open to new technologies and I have always been interested in innovation and technology in CMF surgery, education and training. We have been a great and efficient team. When we started in 2015, we realized immediately that social media had a huge reach and that this was a great opportunity for the AO community development.
Tell us about AO CMF’s social media presence.
Since 2016, the AO CMF has grown to more than 17,000 followers across all platforms, including more than 8,200 followers on Facebook, nearly 1,000 followers on Twitter, and nearly 8,000 followers on Instagram. Our Facebook case discussion group was established in 2019 and already has more than 1,500 AO CMF members, thanks to support from our colleagues in Latin America, who have a very active case discussion program. The daily interaction in the discussion group is huge, with each new case immediately getting 10–20 responses. This exchange is a source of inspiration and a continuous, open global learning event.
What’s next for AO CMF online member engagement?
The AO recently (December 2019) launched myAO, a community platform and mobile app that allows surgeons to connect with other specialized medical professionals in a secure environment that protects patient information. myAO provides a new way of accessing dependable, verified content, tailored to the needs of surgeons no matter where they are in the world.
What are some key takeaways when it comes to social media?
Social media plays an important role in everyone’s lives—surgeons are no exception—and digital transformation influences how we all learn and collaborate. It has become very clear in the COVID-19 pandemic that online learning is a very important part of medical education. Therefore, our strategy is strongly focused on diversifying our educational offerings through the development of new learning concepts and platforms.
What do you hope AO CMF’s social media audience is learning about AO CMF, the community, and the AO?
I hope they’re learning that AO CMF is not a closed, exclusive community; in fact, it’s the opposite. No other group can offer the same high-quality content as AO CMF. We are motivated to promote excellence in CMF surgery, and this includes welcoming every medical professional interested in facial surgery to our international network. My vision is that in the future, AO CMF will be perceived as a strong and reliable personal partner and a network of excellence for your career as a facial surgeon—from the very beginning of your training and throughout your entire career.
“My vision is that in the future, AO CMF will be perceived as a strong and reliable personal partner and a network of excellence for your career as a facial surgeon—from the very beginning of your training and throughout your entire career.”
Against the enormous demands of being a CMF clinician, a lecturer, and an AO CMF community development leader, what do you do to relax?
I love to ride my fast e-bike in nature, or listen to music, from classic to electronic tunes, have a cup of café au lait (coffee latte), and read. In winter, I like to be in the Swiss mountains for skiing. I enjoy spending time with my wife and five- and seven-year-old daughters—and I’ve taken up playing tennis again. These activities free my mind and open it to new ideas. Also important to me is my involvement in the Nicaplast medical mission organization which travels to Nicaragua for two weeks each year to treat children with facial deformities. This keeps me grounded and in touch with what is really essential in the daily clinical work at home—and it’s something I would recommend to any experienced surgeon.