A Note From the President

Published in April Issue             

As I write this, the annual meeting of the Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES) came to an end yesterday here in Seattle, and although the weather outside was damp and soggy almost every day, the atmosphere inside the halls was warm and electrifying. SAGES continues to be a breeding ground for young and enthusiastic surgeons (I fondly recall my first ever presentation was at a SAGES meeting many years ago) who are eager to present the fruits of their research and clinical efforts. It is also an ideal setting for networking and collaboration in projects that are of interest to a diverse membership.

One such example is the monumental effort in creating the BE-SAFE! (Bariatric Endoscopy Skills Assessment Fundamentals Exam) modular exam. This is a collaborative effort led by ASMBS/SAGES members Bipan Chand, MD, FACS, FASGE, FASMBS, Marina Kurian, MD, Leena Khaitan, MD, MPH, Matt Kroh, MD, FACS, and Dean Mikami, MD, FACS with help from many others. It has resulted in the creation of a bariatric endoscopy curriculum that includes didactic and practical, hands-on modules. At the completion of this exam, successful applicants will receive formal validation of their diagnostic and therapeutic endoscopic skills. We are planning to launch this resource to our members at our upcoming ASMBS Spring Meeting being held in New York City, so please stand-by for more information about this exciting project.

I was also delighted to receive the welcome news that our fellow ASMBS members in the military hospitals system continue to add more institutions to the list of MBSAQIP-accredited centers. This is by no means a given or simple endeavor, but rather the result of much deliberation, determination and perseverance by our military colleagues who successfully persuaded their leadership on the myriad attributes and benefits of accreditation with MBSAQIP. Congratulations to Kevin Cline, MD, and Mathew Martin, MD at Madigan Army Medical Center for reaching this important milestone and we are eagerly anticipating the day when all military medical centers will be accredited institutions! We should also thank our hard-working members in the ASMBS Military Committee under the leadership of Eric Ahnfeldt, DO, FASMBS and Gordon Wisbach, MD, MBA, FASMBS who provide guidance and support to our military brethren.

You may have seen a referendum arrive at your inbox recently that asks for your opinion and comments with regards to a major initiative that is under consideration at the ASMBS Executive Council. We are contemplating whether the time has arrived to expand our membership by encouraging non-surgeon physicians to join our vibrant and energetic society. The current category of “affiliate-member” that is reserved for non-surgeon physicians excludes these members from any voting privileges, thereby effectively silencing their voices and limiting, if not discouraging their participation in advancing our worthy and honorable missions. The multi-disciplinary approach that we practice, and the continuum of care principles that we uphold, have evolved into central tenets in the comprehensive and holistic modern management of our patients who suffer from this chronic, relapsing disease of metabolic dysfunction. I believe it is imperative that we effectively exchange accrued knowledge and experience with our non-surgeon colleagues so that we apply technical, pharmacologic, medical and quality outcomes discoveries that have been gained by all, to the benefit of our patients. I am confident that the active participation of this category of new members will only enrich our society and further solidify our position as the undisputed leaders in the field.

Finally, I would like to strongly encourage you all to read the excellent article: “Bad Words: Why Language Counts in Our Work with Bariatric Patients” by Stephanie Sogg, PhD, Andrew Grupski, PhD, and John Dixon, MBBS, PhD, FRACGP, FRCP, which is available in the “Articles in Press” section of our journal SOARD. This important paper accurately depicts the importance of practicing mindfulness as we interface with our patients, referring physicians, and the public at large. As all of us are aware, our patients tend to be particularly sensitive to certain nuances in language and demeanor; important aspects to keep in mind considering how the safety, efficacy, and durability of our outcomes rely to a large extent on the genuine and eager embrace of our counsel and therapeutic interventions.

Thank you for reading this message, and I look forward to reaching out to you in the next issue of connect. I also hope to see you during ASMBS Weekend in New York City from June 14-16! We anticipate a wildly exciting and informative meeting in the most glamorous and energetic city in the world!

Please don’t hesitate to email me any comments or suggestions you may have and enjoy the final arrival of spring!

Samer Mattar