It is amazing that a whole year has passed so quickly!
As I conclude my SAGES presidency, I reflect on all SAGES managed to accomplish, even during a fully virtual pandemic year.
We were PROACTIVE responding to the challenges we had to face
- Publication of several COVID related statements, webinars and “Notes from the Battlefield” with some international surgical colleagues – https://www.sages.org/category/covid-19/
- Swiftly closed fundamentals test centers last spring, pivoted to virtual testing, and, at the discretion of each test center, began to slowly and safely re-open sites this winter as local and institutional guidelines allowed
- Responded to events in the US with anti-racism statements last summer and again last month
- Convened virtual retreats to address potential threats to SAGES following the pandemic, as well as to address our foregut initiatives and strategy
We continued to INNOVATE
- Expanded and implemented groundbreaking changes on our Shark Tank program to a multi round competition, including written submissions, virtual pitch presentations by semi-finalists, final presentations at the Shark Tank Session at the SAGES meeting, and a $30,000 prize to the winner. Also new this year, all finalists will receive an opportunity to receive funding through the newly formed SAGES Investor Network (SINC), which will allow fellow SAGES members to invest in your idea.
- Conducted an Industry Roundtable with 29 colleagues representing 11 of our industry sponsors and discussed innovative changes in our relations with Industry, focusing on creating exciting projects
- Continued the work of the Technology Council, adding the Fluorescence Imaging and Digital Surgery sub-groups which are already doing great work
- Planned the 2nd SAGES Innovation Weekend for this June 4-5 in Houston, with the Next Big Thing Summit combined with the Surgical Disruptive Technology Summit, along with Advocacy Summit, a Surgical Video Data Conference, and the 15th International NOSCAR Summit
- The Artificial Intelligence Task Force continues its mission of educating SAGES members about AI and its implications for clinical practices, research, and education, while also growing its liaison efforts with Safe Chole, VBA, digital surgery, and community surgery.
We maintained our track record to EDUCATE during a year where in-person education was not feasible
- Pivoted with less than two months’ notice to a virtual SAGES meeting in August, 2020
- Provided virtual ADOPT and Train the Trainers courses
- Conducted hybrid robotics courses for fellows.
- Continued our Global education, shifting our Global Advancement Laparoscopic Program (GLAP) to a virtual program with tele-simulation and continuing to implement in Mexico City, Mexico, Leon Guanajuato, Mexico, and new site in Costa Rica.
- Postponed SAGES 2021 spring meeting to late August 2021, with hopes of being able to safely re-convene in person.
- Continued our resident webinar education series of six webinars; topics covering Career Development, ABSITE reviews, Flex Endo training in Rural America, Pediatric surgery and innovations in Hernia surgery.
- Education Council progressed with a pilot for the Lap Fundoplication Video Based Assessment (VBA) and is beginning work on the Lap Chole VBA. The Curriculum Group completed Goals and Objectives for all clinical pathways of the Masters Program. Many pathways have been added to the program since its inception. The Business and Technology Group has readied OWLS for an early release to committee chairs.
We persisted in our ability to COLLABORATE
- Participation in the CVGSC (Coronavirus Global Surgical Collaborative), which includes surgical leaders from multiple countries and different continents and will continue in the future as the GSC
- Formed a Leadership Through Crisis group with presidents of several US & international sister surgical societies to address the challenges we all have shared
- Initiated oncology webinar series with sister societies on Improving Cancer Care delivered through Minimally Invasive Surgery
- Currently working with 5 sister societies for the Consensus Conference on GERD in August, 2021, and 12 sister societies on the Multi-Society Guidelines for Endoscopy Credentialing
We were LEADERS
- Formation of RPS Task Force – Reimagining the Practice of Surgery, whose primary goal is promoting/regaining the joy in the practice of surgery and making institutions more vested in creating a positive work environment for surgeons
- Despite pandemic, continued work on SAGES strategic plan, with on time deliverables
- We inducted our 7000th member!
- Thanks to past treasurers and presidents, we were prepared for and weathered the financial storm that accompanied a pandemic year and cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting.
Looking forward, I expect we will be able to reunite in person in Las Vegas for our SAGES 2021 Annual Meeting with an exceptional program that includes very unique subjects for the Storz & Marks keynote lectures. Register & book housing now! https://www.sages2021.surgery/
I end my Presidential year feeling grateful, humbled and with a strong sense of optimism:
Grateful to all the Executive Committee, the SAGES Board, the committee chairs/co-chairs, program chairs, SAGES Foundation, Dr. Pon and to Sallie Matthews and her excellent staff for making this unprecedented year a successful one for SAGES.
Humbled by the tremendous work of “the people of SAGES” including the work done by prior leaders. As a President, I was able to see it all and understand how SAGES has become the organization is today.
Optimistic for what is coming. The development and implementation of our 2019 strategic plan along with this year’s projects in innovation, the practice of surgery and how we relate to industry places SAGES in a strong position for the future. This is coupled with the superb leaders that are taking over the privileged position of President of SAGES: Liane Feldman for 2021 and John Mellinger for 2022. They will undoubtedly lead our society to a bright future.
Horacio J. Asbun, MD