It is hard to believe that I am a mere 4 months away from completing my term as president. It seems only yesterday that Justin turned over the reins in Jacksonville. It has been my honor and privilege to serve this organization, particularly at this exciting time in our history.
This year marks the 50th Annual Meeting of the AAS and I hope you will be able to join us in Las Vegas to celebrate! In honor of this landmark, the usual Founders Lecture will be replaced by a panel of past presidents of the AAS. Each has been selected to represent a decade in our history and Chuck Brunicardi, AAS Historian and Past President, will moderate a discussion of the history of our society and future directions. Each of the speakers in this session has had an impact on my career personally and I am confident that they will provide an insightful and entertaining session.
In recent years, we have witnessed an unprecedented growth in our membership and meeting attendance, perhaps reflecting the diversification of both the surgical workforce as well as the phenotype of the “academic surgeon.” My presidential address and presidential session will focus on the challenges as well as the opportunities that this diversification presents. The Association for Academic Surgery is stronger than ever and I hope that you will support us as we cross into the next 50 years!
I also wanted to take a minute to update the membership about what your leadership has been up to. One year is such a short time in which to have an impact on a society as large as ours. As such, Tim Pawlik had the forethought a few years ago to develop a 3-year strategic plan so there could be some continuity across presidents from 2014 – 2017. At our retreat in June, the entire Executive Council engaged in an exercise to re-examine the strategic plan and insure that it still represented our mission, values and goals. We then set out to lay the ground work for the next 3 year strategic plan. One of the things that became obvious over our time together was that there was a need to develop an overall structure for our organization that allowed conceptualization of how all of the pieces fit together. Our facilitator (the talented executive coach Janet Dombrowski, who many of you know and many more will after this year’s ASC) pointed out that we really need an organizational matrix. I welcome feedback on what we developed and look forward to seeing how Becky Sippel continues to build on this foundation during her presidency from 2017-2018.
The mission of the AAS is to inspire and develop young academic surgeons. The AAS is committed to the following values: inclusion, leadership, innovation, scholarship, and mentorship. We have 3 goals that guide our activities, related to membership, finance, and organizational capacity respectively:
- to maximize member engagement and value;
- to have the financial resources needed to promote our mission and growth; and
- to continually align our operations with our mission and to enhance accountability.
In addition, the AAS must maintain and build our national identity as we interface with other organizations and continue our collaboration with the SUS to support our most important activity, running the Academic Surgical Congress each year. Each area is assigned to an officer, who oversees activities and strategic initiatives that align with each goal, as illustrated below. We then examined each of our committees and organizational representatives to ensure that they aligned with both our mission and goals as in the table.
The most striking thing for me in putting this together is how clear the mission and the values of the AAS are. We know who we are and what we are trying to accomplish, which I am not sure can be said for all professional organizations. I hope to see many of you in Washington DC this week for the American College of Surgeons and in Las Vegas in February. Feel free to stop me and give me feedback on where the society is going and anything that we might be failing to address. I am proud to be a member of the largest organization of academic surgeons and I hope you are too!