It is an incredible honor for me to be SAGES President. This organization is remarkable for its energy and the capacity of its members to work hard to achieve our organizational goals.
SAGES has grown enormously with the laparoscopic revolution, from its roots as a primarily flexible endoscopy society for surgeons. We are currently much more than either an endoscopy society or a laparoscopic surgical society. To some, it is the largest general surgical society in North America after the ACS. To others, it is the largest GI surgical society, or the largest surgical education society, or some combination of all of the above. To me, SAGES is a culture. It is an organization characterized by the energy, collegiality, and imagination of its members. It is unlike any organization to which I belong in allowing and encouraging young surgeons to get involved and to develop their careers. It is a true meritocracy. If you do the work, you rise in the organization.
Our challenge is to maintain the vibrancy and relevance of SAGES to each of you. Whereas the annual meeting remains the cornerstone of the society and the magnet that brings us together, SAGES is extremely active throughout the year through the work of its committees, and the vast array of programs that we offer. I encourage you to visit our website often and take full advantage of the material provided there. There is an enormous amount of added value in your membership, easily found through our website.
There are a number of new initiatives on the way. In his presidential year, Scott Melvin put together a task force called “Open to MIS” dedicated to advancing the transition of surgical care to minimal access approaches, through education of surgeons and marketing the benefits. We will keep this program growing and expand it through generating data to support the benefits of minimal access techniques.
We have several new educational programs that have been recently introduced or are in development. FUSE, championed by Steve Schwaitzberg during his presidential year and chaired by Daniel Jones, is designed to teach surgeons and nurses about the safe use of energy in the surgical environment. This will play a very central role in our efforts in the realm of patient safety, a theme that will be central to the presidency of my successor, Michael Brunt. The Hernia Task Force, under Adrian Park’s leadership is developing our first educational product that is procedure-centered rather than a more general fundamental program. This program will be truly innovative in its delivery and will keep SAGES at the peak of educational organizations, while meeting the current needs of surgeons in practice to advance their knowledge and skills. We will keep you apprised on its development in future issues of SCOPE.
The area that I have chosen to focus on is advancing the quality of surgical care through a better understanding of patient-centered outcomes and what “recovery” means to our patients. Our goal must be to combine excellent operative care with evidence-based perioperative processes, to leverage what we do in the OR to its maximal benefit. In so doing, we can generate the evidence that will move the needle from open to MIS and serve our patients best. I have established a task force that will collate the current data related to GI and abdominal surgery, educate our members in the implementation of enhanced recovery processes in their institution. The task force will also establish a research agenda to better define recovery metrics and the areas where we need to target interventions that will accelerate and enhance the recovery process for our surgical patients.
We will make a strong push to increase our membership this year. Membership is the fuel of any professional organization. This effort will be built around conveying the values that drive SAGES, the opportunities for career development, the interpersonal opportunities to network and expand the community of each of our members, and the excellent value that SAGES membership provides. We will bring this effort to residents and fellows and will extend our reach internationally. I would encourage each of you to bring two new members to SAGES this year. I know that they will thank you for years to come.
Finally, SAGES is your organization. It is essential that the SAGES leadership keep in touch with our members and respond to their needs. Please communicate your ideas to us and get involved!