I hope you all share my excitement for the approaching annual Academic Surgical Congress (ASC)! It has been a great honor to serve as the President of the AAS—an organization that I love. As I’ve reflected on our society and our membership in preparing my presidential address, I am once again inspired by the high energy, positive attitude and impact we all bring to American Surgery.
The mission of The AAS is to “inspire and develop young academic surgeons.” I wholeheartedly believe our organization is fulfilling this mission. Our society’s activities, e.g., conducting career development courses, establishing mentoring/networking programs, and nurturing nascent scientific communities, reflect our values of inclusion, leadership, innovation, scholarship, and mentorship.
But I believe the AAS is now recognized for doing much more. By design, the AAS is a place for younger surgeons to gather, share ideas, and grow together. To some, this might imply that our society is a prelude to full participation in academic surgery. However, I believe our organization is more than an entry portal. The AAS holds an increasingly unique and important role in academic surgery. This role is not despite the youth of our membership but because of it.
With the accelerating pace of change in surgery and science, I believe the AAS increasingly represents the “leading edge” of scholarly work in academic surgery. When I was applying to surgical residency 15 years ago, many surgical chairs were not interested in training someone who was interested in studying health systems and outcomes.
Times have changed—and the AAS has been quick to change right along with them. The AAS now supports career development (via our Fall Courses) and scientific programming (via the Academic Surgical Congress) in basic science, outcomes, education, global surgery, health policy, leadership, professionalism, and pretty much anything else our members want to study. This years ASC has programming in “mindfulness” and “emotional energy.” I’m not entirely sure what those are, but I’m really excited to find out!
The AAS plays an important role in providing a home—and nurturing young leaders—in emerging areas of academic inquiry. In a time when surgical practice and science are changing rapidly, academic surgery will benefit if we ensure the voices of our young leaders are heard. This is the unique role of the AAS—providing a platform for young leaders to accelerate the pace of change in surgery.
The AAS has a key asset in achieving this goal—a unique mindset. In Liz Wiseman’s recent book, “Rookie Smarts”, she outlines several distinct behavioral phenotypes in which rookies can find early success (backpacker, hunter-gatherer, firewalker, and pioneer), despite a relative lack of experience. I believe the growing impact of the AAS is a direct result of the platform and programs we have created for harnessing these rookie advantages.
In my Presidential Address next week at the Academic Surgical Congress (ASC), I will make the case that continuing to harness this “rookie advantage” will allow the AAS to have even greater impact on academic surgery. See you in Jacksonville!