The Association for Academic Surgery (AAS) has played a critical role in my early career development as an academic surgeon. I am both honored and thrilled to serve the organization this year as its 50th President. The AAS is an organization that is focused on inspiring and developing young academic surgeons. Its mission is something that I value deeply and why I have committed my time and energy to support the AAS.
Over the past ten years I have seen amazing growth in our organization and I have seen it evolve and adapt to meet the needs of our membership. Under the leadership of our past President Dr. Tim Pawlik, the AAS went through its first strategic planning process in 2014. As the executive council went through that process we identified our mission “inspiring and developing young academic surgeons” and our values “Inclusion, Leadership, Innovation, Scholarship, and Mentorship”. What is truly amazing about the AAS is how true the organization is to that mission and values. Never before have I been part of an organization that so clearly knows who it is and what they value. Despite the lack of a formal strategic plan prior to then, we found that almost all of the activities of the AAS already embraced those values and focused on supporting that mission.
Under the leadership of Drs. Dimick and Greenberg the executive council of the AAS has continued to work over the past two years on implementing the tactics that we identified in that strategic plan and to ensure that we are supporting the values of our organization.
Inclusion: We have continued to foster Inclusion through our self-nomination process and open elections for both committee and officer positions. In addition we opened all executive council positions to self-nomination and have focused on increasing the diversity of our executive council members. We have re-invigorated the institutional representative program and have done targeted outreach of under-represented specialties. Our goal is to become the home for all academic surgery, regardless of clinical practice or specialty.
Leadership: We have embraced leadership training in our fall courses, at our annual meeting, and as part of our executive council retreats. We have several committees focused on developing the leadership skills of our members.
Innovation: We have been at the forefront in the adoption of social media with an active Twitter account and a twitter wall at our annual meeting. We developed a blog “the Academic Surgeon”, which has become an on-line resource to help us stay connected with our membership throughout the year. The ASC meeting has truly evolved over the last few years and we have really prided ourselves on using “out of the box” methods to deliver content and enhance the value of the ASC. The AAS embraces innovation in all that we do.
Scholarship: Research is at the core of what we do as academic surgeons and the AAS has strived to promote and show case high quality research. Our annual meeting now has almost 1500 abstracts presented and publications generated from the ASC continue to grow exponentially each year with publications in our affiliated journal JSR throughout the year. Our fall courses are committed to educating the next generation of surgical scientists and the AAS continues to be a great resource for surgeons interested in pursuing all areas of scientific investigation.
Mentorship: While we have made great progress forward over the past few years, it became clear at our last executive council meeting that “mentorship”, which is a core value of our organization, is an area where we continue to fall short on. Mentorship is something that we all want to support and promote and we have tried multiple initiatives over the past few years – but we still haven’t quite figured out how to do right. Several of our committees are working on initiatives related to Mentorship currently and we are planning on focusing our upcoming executive council retreat on the theme of Mentorship. I want the leadership of the AAS to examine what we are doing currently as an organization to embody that value and then to determine how we could do it better. My goal is that by the end of our executive council retreat we will identify at least 2 new initiatives to help promote the value of “mentorship” that we can tackle in the next year.
The AAS is a strong organization and we are in a great place, so I think that this is a great time for us to really focus in on an issue and try to develop some new initiatives that are going to help us move forward over the next 10 years. The image of an academic surgeon has many different faces and the needs of each member is very different. While I don’t anticipate that we will be able to meet the mentorship needs of everyone – I know that we can do better!
I am thrilled to be working with such an amazing group of officers and council members this year and I look forward to developing some initiatives to help you our members!