Committee Spotlight

Published in March 2014 Issue             

An Interview with Committee Chair, Dr. John Kelly

John Kelly, MD

ASMBS is more than 4,000 members strong, a reflection of the growing importance of the organization and the value it continually strives to bring to its diverse membership. connect asked ASMBS Membership Committee Chair, John Kelly, MD, chief of General Surgery at UMass Memorial Medical Center, about the work of the committee and what it does to serve current members and attract new ones.

connect: What are the goals of the committee this year?

Specifically, the current charges of the committee include:

  1. Act as liaisons for members to ensure that the needs of the membership are being met by the society.

  2. Address member concerns.

  3. Review membership applications.

  4. Assist applicants in the application process when necessary.

  5. Facilitate the FASMBS program.

  6. Stimulate membership.

  7. Ensure access of members to society benefits.

Each year, and with respect to the functions as outlined, we continue to have goals surrounding the unifying themes of increasing membership, increasing retention, and enhancing value to the members. This year our goals will focus not only on increasing membership, but also adding value enhancements, including a re-launch of the FASMBS program.

connect: What were some of the significant accomplishments of the committee over the last few years?

Some the accomplishments over the last year have included:

  1. A simplified and expedited online membership application and renewal process.

  2. Reworked guidelines for FASMBS.

  3. An overall increase in membership by 8 percent, including an impressive increase in international members.

  4. An increase in membership retention by 20 percent.

connect: What is the current state of the membership?

ASMBS continues to expand. The ASMBS currently has over 4,000 members, including just over 2,300 physicians and 1,700 Integrated Health members. Our international membership is growing dramatically. Between 2011 and 2013, it has risen by more than 60 percent.

connect: What kinds of membership drives does the committee conduct?

As a committee, we are always attentive to lapsed membership. We recently conducted drives to personally call members in an effort to understand reasons for nonrenewal. This year, we will have a particular focus on the ongoing success of international recruitment, as well as first time members, which includes encouraging all graduating fellows specializing in bariatrics to join the society.

connect: What are the biggest challenges to growing the membership? Are there different challenges posed for surgeons as compared to Integrated Health?

The challenges to membership will always surround issues of cost versus overall perceived value of membership. The professional worlds of medicine and surgery have numerous competing societies and meetings. The ASMBS offers a very competitive and unique product that leadership continues to build on and enhance. It has done an excellent job of finding that balance of cost and value for its different categories of members.

connect: Do you coordinate efforts with the Integrated Health membership committee?

Efforts are planned to enhance communication and coordination. Both committees have common goals resulting in a seamless approach to fostering a growing society, flush with members of both categories working together. Members should interact and coordinate together in the society as they would at their own facility.

connect: What has been the overall growth of membership over the last five years? Which membership is seeing the most growth? What are your expectations for the future?

Overall, we have experienced a growth rate of over 25 percent since 2008 with a total membership of 4,117 in 2013 - up from 3,059.

Both categories have contributed to the significant growth, including Integrated Health at just over 28 percent, while physician growth at just over 23 percent in the past 5 years.

We expect a rise in international and domestic members, including fellows, and specifically a rise in anesthesiologists who will join our membership.

connect: Please characterize member retention over the years?

Members have seen great value in the society and the need to be involved on a national level. As a result, the annual attrition rate has dropped by as much as 20 percent.

connect: How would you describe the “value” of membership? How has the value increased over the years?

The value and profile of the ASMBS continues to grow. Members see it with increasing visibility on the national front with the society and its leadership as advocates. We also see other efforts in regards to lobbying, education, society emails and updates, and enhanced national meeting forums like ObesityWeek.

connect: What is the committee doing in relation to the FASMBS program?

The committee has worked hard to rewrite the guidelines and simplify them where possible. Our goal with the Fellowship title is to strike a balance between a designation that is achievable by many, but also has a level of prestige. Now that the guidelines for MBSAQIP have been established, look for an announcement soon on how a Regular member of the society might apply to become a Fellow of the ASMBS, and likewise, how an International member can achieve International Fellowship designation.

connect: Why should a health professional join the ASMBS?

ASMBS offers valuable learning experiences at our annual conferences, presenting cutting edge technologies and other educational activities. We are proud to continue providing such education during our 2nd Annual ObesityWeek™ program in Boston in November 2014, as well as at our smaller, more intimate Spring Educational Event in Miami.

In addition to our annual meetings, ASMBS has increased its advocacy and access efforts and crafted position statements on a number of important topics in the field to best serve our membership. Keep up with the newest information about your specialty by renewing your membership today. The following are just some of the benefits of being a member:

  • Support groups help with retention of patients and follow up in the long term

  • NEW - Free CME opportunities

  • Bariatric movies & images library - view surgical videos online

  • Journal Article CME through SOARD

  • A subscription* to "Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases (SOARD)" in both electronic form and hard copy

  • Complimentary membership to IFSO

  • Significant savings on registration fees to the ASMBS annual meetings held during ObesityWeek, as well as other educational offerings, including the 2014 Spring Event

  • Identify your peers on the ASMBS website member locator

  • Complimentary membership to the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC)

  • Members only access to the ASMBS website

  • Monthly ASMBS Insider and email alerts on recently published research findings, political events and society highlights

  • Access to your State Chapter program

  • Members-only discounts for the CBN program

  • The opportunity to become involved in a variety of committees that impact research, education, patient access, reimbursement, technologic innovation, communication and public service