As we wrap up an eventful summer of 2023, we take a moment to stand in solidarity with colleagues, patients and the communities devastated by recent fires, earthquakes, and catastrophic floods across the world. The loss of life and unimaginable grief have challenged us to reflect more urgently on the role we must play in curbing the impact of our activities on the global climate crisis.
As a surgical organization, SAGES has acknowledged the direct environmental impact of the healthcare sector and specifically of minimally invasive and endoscopic practices . SAGES has pledged to educate and disseminate best practices and collaborate with other stakeholders including industry partners in global efforts to reduce the surgical footprint on the environment . We have joined forces with EAES to organize a Sustainability in Surgical Practice (SSP) taskforce that includes 36 members passionate about sustainability. SAGES recently joined the Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health and will continue to build strong partnerships and expertise in this space, as reflected in the 2024 SAGES Annual Meeting featuring inaugural sessions focused on SSP. You will soon be asked to complete a 5-minute survey that will help us focus efforts on empowering surgeons through education, collaborative actions and initiatives in promoting sustainable practices. We urge you to complete it so we better understand your interests, local resources and concerns. We want to hear from students, trainees, and surgeons across all levels of leadership and diversity of practice.
Our SAGES committees have been actively preparing to launch other important initiatives, programing and curricula. Please join me in congratulating the SAGES Global Affairs Committee for kicking off the Global Laparoscopic Advancement Program (GLAP) training in Ondangwa, Namibia just a few weeks ago, which is the first official site of SAGES Go Global in Africa. The virtual GLAP programming will continue in Guadalajara, Mexico and Costa Rica, with plans to expand to El Salvador. The Global and Safe Chole Committees are teaming up to pilot Safe Chole Virtual Modules in Costa Rica. In collaboration with the Fundamentals leadership, the Global Committee is also working to bring FLS certification to LMIC locations via GAC/GLAP programming. Much of the work by the GLAP team is led by volunteers like you, practicing surgeons and trainees who have a passion for educating, and has been supported by the SAGES Research and Education Foundation and a prior generous grant from one of our members, Dr. Pon Satitpunwaycha. Donations from external sponsors and members like you can help scale up GLAP outreach and impact to even more underserved regions of the world – www.sagesfoundation.org.
In keeping with creating meaningful SAGES educational offerings for our members, the QOS Committee just launched a free OpiVoidTM course that meets the new DEA requirement for clinicians seeking a new license or renewing an existing DEA prescriber license. The QOS Committee curated content from past conferences to create a free 8-hour CME activity that provides training on treating and managing patients with opioid or other substance use disorders. Log on to www.sages.org/login and then click “Access Organization Wide Learning System (OWLS)” to take advantage of this free resource that is relevant to your practice.
Our FLS Committee has also been hard at work developing more than 300 new MCQs mapped to a revised blueprint focused on a set of EPAs and OBs selected based on the results of a prior multi-specialty survey. Beta testing will soon begin to select questions to be included in the revised FLS exam. The committee developed the prototype for a new technical skill task that may be included in the revised FLS skills exam. The committee also plans to revamp the curricular content for the FLS program to provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date learning experience to better support competency goals for laparoscopic surgeons in training and in early practice.
In the not so distant future, trainees and practicing surgeons alike will also have the opportunity to submit surgical videos for comprehensive video based assessment (VBA) and feedback through a SAGES online platform! The Education Council and associated committees are developing several VBA initiatives. Following a rigorous process for validating its scoring methodology, the Lap Fundoplication VBA is now complete! The Lap Chole VBA has finalized a scoring rubric and is developing an asynchronous rater training module, and the Colorectal Committee is in the process of adapting the CAT framework for a Lap Right Colectomy VBA. To support the launch of VBA, the Surgical Data Science (SDS) task force led an RFP for developing a secure online platform that can support video upload, storage, review and rating by external raters, with added features such as coaching and data analytics, all intended to enable quality improvement initiatives. Several proposals by commercial vendors are currently under review with the goal of finalizing a formal partnership and launching the SAGES Foregut VBA.
We are proud to announce that in line with our mission to improve patient care, SAGES was recently granted recognition as a Patient Safety Organization (PSO) by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). As a PSO, SAGES can create a legally secure environment (conferring privilege and confidentiality) where clinicians and health care organizations can voluntarily report, aggregate, and analyze clinical data with the goal of improving the safety and quality of patient care. SAGES will leverage its PSO designation as we move towards developing multispecialty video-based repositories and clinical registries.
SAGES remains committed to fostering DEI and improving the quality and equity of surgical care across the diverse populations we serve. Our Diversity, Leadership and Professional Development (DLPD) Committee has developed the Fundamentals of Leadership Development (FLD) course that incorporates DEI training. The course was launched virtually and will be offered for the first time in-person on April 15, 2024, immediately preceding the SAGES meeting. This course that all SAGES Board Members are required to take will be accessible to all. The DLPD Committee is exploring strategies to expand access to the course both in-person and virtually.
Our Guidelines Committee was also tasked with re-evaluating its methodology for developing SAGES Guidelines and ensuring that review of the best published evidence of a clinical topic and subsequent strength of recommendations take into account the diversity, or lack thereof, in the patient groups included in relevant trials. To that effect, SAGES guidelines will incorporate a section at least recommending new areas of research, when diversity is lacking.
In order to address this gap in surgical trials, the Research Committee has developed an initiative to increase diversity in surgical trials, not only among participating trial sites and investigators, but also among patients enrolled. Stay tuned for the launch of the SAGES Research Network Database that will provide the opportunity for surgeons interested in participating in investigator-initiated and/or sponsored clinical trials, to be matched as an eligible trial site, based on site, investigator, clinical and research profile.
SAGES continues to innovate, explore and bring our members the latest and most exciting new technologies and techniques in our specialties through specialty meetings, our Annual Meeting and via social media. The SAGES 5th Annual Next Best Thing (NBT) Innovation weekend will be held February 22-24, 2024. The summit will feature the 17th annual NOSCAR meeting, the Surgical Disruptive Technology Summit (SDTS) meeting and a summit on Governance led by the SAGES AI Committee. Once again, the SAGES Shark Tank semi-finalists will pitch their proposals, with the finalists moving on to present at the SAGES Annual Meeting on April 18, 2024.
The SAGES Critical View of Safety (CVS) Challenge is a biomedical computer vision challenge launched by the SAGES AI Committee, aimed at developing clinically meaningful and effective solutions to assess the CVS during laparoscopic cholecystectomy. The goal of this initiative is to generate a large and diverse and annotated dataset of lap chole videos and encourage researchers to compete in developing innovative AI algorithms for real-time intraoperative CVS detection. This groundbreaking project represents the first effort by a Surgical Society to leverage AI-driven intraoperative assistance for enhancing surgical safety, and has benefited from academic and industry collaborations and sponsorships. To date, nearly 825 videos from 55 countries have been uploaded and expert annotation is well underway. Upon reaching a target of 1,000 videos and finalizing the dataset, the CVS Challenge will be presented at the International Conference on Medical Image Computing and Computer Assisted Intervention (MICCAI). If accepted, the challenge will officially launch by March 2024. We invite surgeons worldwide to continue contributing to this landmark project that is poised to serve as a framework for future AI-based clinical challenges. Contribute to the challenge at www.cvschallenge.org.
Calling out new members! With 7,478 members to date, we remain committed to growing a diverse membership and engaging, supporting and providing value to our members. The Membership committee implemented several initiatives to recruit more next generation members and leaders, including facilitating the Candidate Membership application process, reducing the financial burden for trainees transitioning to practice by discounting the 1st year Active membership fee, and launching “Trainee Town Hall” and “Meet a Member” events at our annual meeting for medical students, residents and fellows to mingle with our members.
SAGES listens. Over the past few months, the QOS Committee surveyed our membership about the state of burnout in surgery, while the Reimagining the Practice of Surgery (RPS) task force inquired about factors important to surgeons in their professional well-being. The candid and detailed feedback received from as many as 600 of our members will help inform our Society on action plans and initiatives to better support surgeons in practice and in training. We look forward to strong participation at several wellness sessions and activities at our Annual Meeting.
Fresh off the Press! We are pleased to report a near record high number of abstract submissions for the SAGES 2024 meeting in Cleveland! Please Visit https://www.sages2024.org/ to view the Schedule at a Glance. Registration and housing will open later this Fall. Special thanks to Program Chairs Marylise Boutros, Caitlin Halbert and Eric Pauli for organizing a superb program centered around the theme of educating, innovating and collaborating for a sustainable future.
Lastly, I want to express my deepest thanks to the Executive Committee, Board, Committee Chairs and Co-Chairs, SAGES staff and more than 900 committee members for their efforts advancing SAGES’s mission while maintaining financial sustainability. We are particularly grateful to the SAGES Foundation for its ongoing support.
- Pietrabissa A, Sylla P. Green surgery: time to make a choice. Surg Endosc 2023;37(9):6609-6610.