It is a great honor to serve as the 49th President of the Association for Academic Surgery (AAS)! Thank you for entrusting me to lead this incredible society. Tim Pawlik, Justin Dimick and I met at the beginning of Tim’s presidency to lay out a 3-year approach that would allow increased continuity in our strategic plan and growth as an organization. I am so excited to continue the work that Justin and Tim started through their leadership and vision and to set things up for Becky Sippel (our current president-elect) and other future presidents. The annual Executive Council retreat is in a few short months, where the extended leadership will revisit the strategic plan put in place by Tim and Justin, ensure we are on track to meet our current goals, and identify some new initiatives to continue our evolution in the years to come.
I was inspired during the Academic Surgical Congress (ASC) in Jacksonville, not only by the record-breaking attendance and innovative educational programming developed by program chairs, Adil Haider and Kasper Wang, but by the quest for knowledge and networking I felt emanating throughout the conference. There was an energy in the air that surpassed previous years (and I’m not just talking about the extravaganza under the masterful orchestration of DJ Dorry Segev). Members are engaged in the society. The growth over the past few years has further invigorated our already vibrant and valuable organization. It is an exciting time to be a member of the AAS!
My goal this year is primarily to continue the momentum and course that was set by the leadership two years ago when we developed our strategic plan. It was then that we committed to the following values:
We have made great strides in each of those core values and I thank the past and current leadership for their work. But I think we still have work to do to make this organization even better. The AAS officers will be analyzing more in depth the comprehensive membership survey the Committee on Technology and Communications (formerly IT Committee) disseminated. We need to ensure that our programming and resources align with the expressed needs of the membership.
Our membership numbers continue to grow and we have a strong constituency. But we can do better and with the help of our revamped institutional representative program I know we can reach more potential members and promote academic surgery.
We won’t be focusing our member engagement efforts purely on our active membership. With the help of the newly revised Senior Member Council, we will be reaching out to senior members and determining how our society can work best for them. A special thanks to Rachel Kelz for her leadership in this area.
And of course, our global surgery presence continues to expand through our Global Affairs Committee and our partnership with the G4 Alliance. I expect to see even more collaborations with our international surgical “sister” societies.
While the AAS is a non-profit and we pride ourselves in running a lean operation, more resources mean more we can offer to our membership, with a particular emphasis on increasing the growing research awards programs that are critical to launching academic surgical careers in this competitive funding environment. The finance committee will be investigating ways we can bring in additional revenue, with limited financial burden coming from our members, to support this expansion.
The AAS Executive Council made amazing progress streamlining our organization so that it can be the most effective to support our initiatives and the interests of our members. We have re-structured three committees, eliminated positions on Council, re-purposed the Councilor role and added a Basic and Translational Science Committee. I think these changes represent the agility that makes our organization so adept at keeping up with the changing healthcare and surgical environment.
I look forward to a productive year and I encourage you all to become involved and active in the AAS. There are plenty of opportunities for all member categories to participate. If you have any questions about how to increase your involvement or suggestions for how our organization can improve, please do not hesitate to let me and/or Christina Kasendorf know.
Enjoy your spring!