ASCRS Web Site
In This Issue

President's Message

Meeting to Feature Distinguished Lecturers

Core Subject Update

Society Updates Strategic Plan

Washington Update

NIH Study Sections

Council Actions
Nominations Sought for Executive Council, Honorary Fellows
In This Issue
Annual Meeting Information
ASCRS Website
ASCRS Research Foundation
ASCRS Facebook Page



President’s Message:
Annual Meeting features new, exciting innovations
By Dr. James W. Fleshman, Jr.
Dr. James Fleshman, Jr.
Dr. James Fleshman

You can expect our annual gathering of friends, held in Minneapolis this year, to give a new and exciting cast to your idea of an ASCRS Annual Meeting. Program Chair Dr. Matt Mutch and Vice Chair Dr. Steve Hunt have done a great job. They have brought innovation to the program by expanding it (70 podium presentations, 30 videos and over 300 posters) and including a new category of abstract—video plus data. By adding more posters, we believe we will increase the interest of members from Europe and other countries outside the U.S.

We are also introducing a new Masters in Colorectal Surgery Lectureship, honoring Past President Dr. Stanley Goldberg, with Dr. Richard Reznick enlisted to give the first “Masters” lecture. The Program Committee has created outstanding surgery symposia that will meet the needs of our members, especially in the area of rectal cancer.

The meeting features many other innovations, including a daylong program to update primary care providers on recent advances in diagnosis and treatment of colorectal diseases commonly seen in a primary care practice. We have high hopes for the success of this outreach to primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician’s assistants.

For the first time, CBS HealthWatch™ crews will be offering a live Web chat from the floor. There will also be a phone-in question and answer session featuring ASCRS members to be presented on a local CBS television station. The Society has signed a letter of agreement with CBS HealthWatch for a colorectal awareness campaign to extend from March with National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month to May, covering Digestive Disease Week, May 1-5, and the Annual Meeting. We have asked many of our friends in industry to join us as sponsoring partners in this campaign.

A special pleasure I’ll enjoy during the Annual Meeting will be hosting Dr. Giovanni Romano, President of the European Society of Proctology, who will be making the first of many planned reciprocal visits between our two societies. We will be highlighting the European Society’s annual meeting, scheduled for September 22-25 in Sorrento, Italy, this year.

Health care reform a hot topic at Annual Meeting
Another hot topic at this year’s Annual Meeting will be health care reform. Immediate Past President Dr. Tony Senagore will direct a symposium on health care policy in the 21st century that should help all of us understand the nature of the current problem, the changes that have been proposed, and what is likely to happen to the compensation program. We can expect unique insights into health care reform when England’s Lord Ara Darzi gives his perspective, as immediate past Minister of Health, on the UK’s national health system.

ASCRS has supported meaningful health care reform for many years, and we remain committed to reforms that expand patient access to quality surgical care. We have co-signed a letter from the ACS to President Barack Obama urging the Administration to address these issues in any final health care reform bill:

  • Extend health insurance coverage to more Americans.

  • Repeal the current sustainable growth rate (SGR) immediately and establish a new baseline for the physician payment system.

  • Oppose the creation of an independent Medicare commission.

  • Promote well-designed and tested quality improvement initiatives.

  • Incorporate medical liability reforms in comprehensive health care reform.

  • Address surgical workforce problems through improvements to the graduate medical education system.

  • Ensure fair and appropriate Medicaid payment levels.

  • Avoid injecting controversial scope-of-practice provisions by omitting “non-discrimination in health care” language.

The surgical community looks forward to working with the Administration to reform our nation’s health care system and to preserve and improve Americans’ ability to access high quality surgical care and health care services.

Among the year’s major accomplishments is a comprehensive updating of the Society’s strategic plan, as detailed in another article in this newsletter. We’ve given the strategic plan some broader strokes and focused on major issues. For example, we have committed to a more aggressive effort to promote the Society, beginning the branding process. Our CBS HealthWatch partnership is part of this, as is the new Annual Meeting program for primary care physicians. Our Public Relations Chair Dr. Harry Papaconstantinou and new Media Relations Chair Dr. Deb Nagle are heading strong efforts in this area.

There’s not room to mention all the accomplishments of our very active Society over the past year, but let me be sure to single out a few:

  • The Operative Competency Evaluation Committee, chaired by Dr. Patricia Roberts, has made excellent progress in creating a procedure-based assessment for operative skills for colon and rectal residents in training. Drs. Richard Reznick and Helen MacRae have made important contributions to this effort and will help the committee develop a summative skills exam.

  • The ASCRS Textbook contract has been renewed, and a second version will be prepared next year, with Dr. David Beck as senior editor.

  • The Society’s CREST (Colorectal Education System) Committee, chaired by Dr. Elisa Birnbaum, has downloaded the textbook, journal, and core subjects and reports excellent progress toward its objective of creating a flexible online learning system that will give members a single place to go to meet their learning needs.

  • The Executive Council has signed off on an agreement with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to co-sponsor the salary of colon and rectal researchers who have been awarded K08/K23 grants, and to provide up to $75,000 annually over a five-year period for research dedicated to colorectal projects. Research Foundation President Dr. José Guillem has led this very promising initiative.

  • We have made excellent progress on the quality issue. Dr. Clifford Ko has worked with ACS-NSQIP on a quality measure for site infection in colectomy. We are also supporting the ACS case log mechanism by contributing four colorectal surgical procedures and relevant parameters. Drs. Tony Senagore, Nancy Baxter, Conor Delaney, Arden Morris, and Larissa Temple have made important contributions at the Quality Assessment Committee and have represented us well to the National Quality Forum, Surgical Quality Alliance and ACS-NSQIP Committee.

ASCRS collaborates with The Fellowship Council
ASCRS has agreed to become one of the sponsoring societies of The Fellowship Council, which was founded over a decade ago with the purpose of providing an organized framework for postgraduate non-ACGME surgical fellowships, including ground rules for matching fellows, and standards for the educational and clinical value of the fellowship experience. The Council fosters the development of high quality fellowships in MIS, GI Surgery, Flexible Endoscopy, Bariatric Surgery, Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Surgery and Laparoscopic Colorectal Surgery through a universal application and match process.

These fellowships are for super specialty training and are not approved, regulated, or funded through the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery or American Board of Surgery. ASCRS will have representatives on The Fellowship Council Board, its Accreditation Committee, Education Committee, and the Fellowship Foundation Board.

Colorectal surgeons already have 16 fellowships sponsored by The Fellowship Council. Other sponsoring organizations are American Hepato-Pancreato-Biliary Association (AHPBA), American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS), Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons (SAGES), and Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT).

As we approach the end of my term as your President, many hearty thank you’s come to mind. I want to thank all the regional societies who have invited me to join them as a guest speaker. It was my pleasure just recently to attend a meeting of the Minimally Invasive Robotics Association in San Diego, where Drs. Leela Prasad and Sonia Ramamoorthy taught pelvic dissection with the robot. They will lead a hands-on workshop at the Annual Meeting on robotic-assisted proctectomy co-sponsored by MIRA.

I want to thank all of our international guest speakers, especially Profs. Lord Ara Darzi and Philip Quirke, from the UK, who are giving our Harry E. Bacon and Norman Nigro lectures this year.

Finally, I want to thank Jim Slawny for his more than 20 years of service, dedication, and innovative management of our Society and congratulate Rick Slawny for stepping up and taking over as Executive Director. I can’t say enough about the hard work and dedication Stella Zedalis gives to ASCRS. She’s always there, always jovial, and I can’t imagine a better person to work with.

Serving as your President has been a humbling experience for me. In preparing my Presidential Address, I have reviewed many others. It has helped me see how big this job is and how well it’s been done in the past. Many of those addresses have been quite prescient—years ahead of their time—in seeing what lay ahead for medicine and our specialty. We are forever in the debt of their authors.

We are definitely a working society, and we leave a huge footprint for our size. I want to thank every one of you for your participation. It is an honor and a pleasure to have served as your President. I look forward to seeing you in Minneapolis.