|By Bradley J. Champagne, MD, Program Chair
The 2014 ASCRS Annual Scientific Meeting in Hollywood, FL was a huge success, with total attendance of 2,563, including 1,592 physicians (353 students/residents), 74 nurses/allied health, and 709 exhibitors. It was the second highest attendance recorded. We have received many positive comments about the program, especially innovations introduced this year: E-posters and the “town hall debate format.”
The meeting content demonstrated a nice display of tradition, education, innovation, and collegiality. We built on the prior year’s theme of “pragmatic clinical advice,” introduced several novel sessions, and hoped to be sensitive to both our evolving health care culture and every practitioner’s needs.
The lengthy panel discussions in most symposia and the highly anticipated “happy hour debates” stimulated audience participation and produced several “take home pearls” for the audience. Additionally, the “Take Me to Your OR” session was standing room only as experts taught members in the auditorium in an unprecedented manner. ASCRS President Dr. Michael J. Stamos, Orange, CA, directed the session, assisted by Dr. Brian R. Kann, Philadelphia, PA.
The new “hands on” course in fecal incontinence, featuring sacral nerve stimulation, was also at maximum capacity. The Annual Meeting also featured a laparoscopic colectomy symposium and workshop, and a symposium on technical advancements that attempt to reduce incision size.
We had outstanding special and memorial lectures, beginning with U.S. Representative Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse, NY), grandson of the late Dr. Norman D. Nigro, whose topic for the Norman D. Nigro, MD, Research Lectureship was “Health Care 2014 and Beyond: A Perspective from Congress.” Another special lecturer was a friend and mentor of outgoing President Dr. Michael Stamos. Dr. David B. Hoyt, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) , Chicago, IL, gave the Harry E. Bacon, MD, Lectureship on the topic, “The Leadership Role of Surgeons in the Quality Movement.
Quality received a strong emphasis throughout the meeting. It was the focus of Dr. Stamos’ Presidential Address and another special lecturer, Arden M. Morris, MD, MPH, Chair of the ASCRS Quality Assessment and Safety Committee and former co-chair of the National Quality Forum’s Steering Committee for Surgical Quality Measures, whose topic for the Ernestine Hambrick, MD, Lectureship was “Scrutinizing Quality of Care in Colorectal Surgery: Do (Dis)Incentives Improve Outcomes?”
In other special lectures:
- ASCRS Past President (2003-2004) Dr. David J. Schoetz, Jr., Burlington, MA, presented a special memorial lectureship honoring ASCRS Past President (1980-1981) Dr. Malcolm (Mike) Veidenheimer, who died last year. His topic was “The Joys of Mentorship.”
- ASCRS President-Elect Dr. Charles E. Littlejohn, Stamford, CT, gave the Masters in Colorectal Surgery Lectureship Honoring Eugene Salvati, MD, one of his mentors, on the topic “Lessons Learned from a Master Surgeon.”
- James DuBois, PhD, DSc, Professor of Medicine and Bioethics at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, chose the topic “A Humble Task: Restoring Virtue in an Age of Conflicted Medicine” for the Parviz Kamangar Humanities in Surgery Lectureship.
E-Posters also made their successful debut at the meeting. Each poster was presented by the authors and moderated by key opinion leaders.
The meeting featured over 20 symposia. The directors of these sessions did an incredible job at faculty selection and creating topics that stimulated discussion. Each day ended with unique “town hall” style debates on various topics. All surgical specialties have certain topics/diseases that contain controversy. Understanding the optimal treatment plan for patients often depends on a physician’s ability to see clarity in these lines of gray. The debates were interactive, educational and created a fun environment for learning (aided by service of beer and wine).
The popular ASCRS Past Presidents’ Panel returned, highlighting controversies and treatment strategies. It was directed by Past President Dr. Steven D. Wexner, Weston, FL, and included Past Presidents Drs. David E. Beck, New Orleans, LA, James W. Fleshman, Dallas, TX, Stanley M. Goldberg, Minneapolis, MN, David J. Schoetz, Jr., Burlington, MA, Anthony J. Senagore, Saginaw, MI, and Alan G. Thorson, Omaha, NE.
Another highlight was a mock trial courtroom session entitled, “A Courtroom Primer: How to Survive a Lawsuit.” Incoming ASCRS President Dr. Terry C. Hicks, New Orleans, LA, faced one of the toughest plaintiff lawyers in the country in “Mounting Your Defense: How to Avoid Lawsuits and What to do When they Happen.” Dr. Charles B. Whitlow, New Orleans, LA, did a mock deposition.
Other highlights included “Global Perspectives on Health Care,” in which surgeons from Canada, Asia, South America and Europe shared experience and advice on their socioeconomic climates.
The afternoon Wednesday programs—“Orchestrating and Optimizing Career Transitions” and “Evaluating Quality of Life Outcomes for Colorectal Cancer Surgery: Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty”—had more attendance than in years past and the Closing Dinner Dance/Salsa Party provided a night of entertainment and fun for all. The dance floor remained full until the music stopped!
I would like to personally thank Rick Slawny, Gayle Irvin, Gina Seegers and the entire staff, and Program Co-Chair Dr. Joe Carmichael and, of course, our esteemed Past President Dr. Mike Stamos. The entire meeting was the ultimate team effort and would not have been possible without everyone working together.