- Professional Development
March 16, 2018
SUS Secretary Report from the ASC
Cristina Ferrone, MD
Thank you for making the 13th Annual Academic Surgical Congress (ASC) a tremendous success. The Society of University Surgeons met in Jacksonville in the newly renovated Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront on the St. Johns River. This was the first event for the hotel after being flooded and severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Despite concerns over the damage incurred by the hurricane, the ASC brought in 1844 academic surgeons and trainees, which is 300 more than two years ago in Jacksonville. We had 1406 abstracts presented, 16 Plenary sessions, 356 Oral presentations, 1034 Quickshot presentations, and 121 manuscripts submitted.
The success of this year’s meeting is due to the diligence of Dr. Rebekah R. White, SUS Publications Committee Chair, AAS Recorder, Dr. Eugene S. Kim, the ASC Core Committee, the entire SUS Publications and AAS Program Committees, and the BSC Staff. They began their work shortly after the 2017 meeting and assembled an excellent program.
The sixth-annual 2018 SUS Mid-Career Academic Surgery Professional Development Course was a great success with 34 participants. Dr. Patricia Turner gave the keynote address this year. As anticipated, her talk was filled with sage advice as she described the many paths to leadership. The speakers provided honest advice, filled with real world examples of challenges and successes they have encountered in academic surgery.This was complimented by small group exercises addressing difficult work environments, led by Dr. Taylor Riall. Given the positive feedback, this course will be repeated with further updated content and interactive sessions on February 4, 2019, immediately prior to the 2019 Academic Surgical Congress in Houston, TX. The course will be capped again at 50 participants to ensure interactivity and to maximize participation by course attendees. The registration flyer will be circulated in October 2018.
Tuesday morning the meeting got off to a busy start with 18 concurrent oral scientific sessions.
Dr. Taylor Riall, the SUS President, and Dr. Rebecca Sippel, the AAS President led the opening ceremonies. Dr. Dai Chung presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to his and Dr. Riall's longtime mentor Courtney M. Townsend, Jr, MD. Dr. Chung described the many accomplishments of the native Texan; Dr. Townsend has been the President of the American Surgical Association, Southern Surgical Association, and immediate Past President of the American College of Surgeons. He has over 427 peer reviewed publications, maintained continuous NIH funding from 1985-2010, and mentored six SUS Presidents, along with many other incredible achievements. However, he is admired most for being the teacher who "simply made you better" inside and outside of the operating room. He always did what was right for the patient and loved to teach. Dr. Townsend in his usual humble, concise and direct manner accepted the award thanking and attributing his award to his students, residents and colleagues. To read more about our LTAA winner Dr. Townsend, click here.
This was followed by a brilliant introduction of Dr. Riall by President-Elect Dr. Allan Tsung. We learned that the three things Dr. Riall would bring to a desert island were Diet Coke, her bike, and a pair of running shoes. Dr. Tsung described her incredibly accomplished career and supportive family. He described her life journey from Rutgers, to Johns Hopkins, to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and currently to the University of Arizona through an analogy to the sport of triathlon, in which she loves to compete.
Dr. Riall's Presidential Address "Enjoy the Journey" was inspirational. She described the troubling statistics that 50% of surgeons demonstrate signs and symptoms of burnout and a staggering 300 physicians committ suicide each year in the United States. She described her personal story of burnout and imposter syndrome and the impact it has had on her life. She described her realization that the traditional models of strength and invincibility in surgery are fundamentally flawed and challenged the surgical leaders and future surgical leaders in the room, to model, develop, and teach the attitudes, behaviors, and strategies which facilitate success while simultaneously creating an intentional culture which supports these behaviors and provide multiple paths to success in academic surgery. She concluded that, “We (surgeons) must take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. We must give those around us the courage to define their own success and support them in their journey as my mentors have done for me. If we don’t, we will continue to lose our best surgeons and no longer attract the best and brightest medical students to careers in surgery.” As both a surgeon and executive coach, she described a coaching-based wellbeing and resiliency program developed at the University of Arizona that has improved the wellbeing and satisfaction of the surgical residents. Her address concluded by thanking Drs. Townsend, Lillemoe, Yeo, and Neumayer, the residents and faculty at the University of Arizona, her family, and her best friend and husband Charlie and reminded the surgeons to not be so focused on the finish line that they forget to enjoy the journey. To watch Dr. Riall's Presidential Address, click here.
The Congress then broke for lunch with three Quickshot lunch sessions. The “#SoMe 2.0 – Building an Scademic Career in the World of Social Media”, the Ethics Committee session on the “Intraoperative Dilemmas in Resident Education”, and the Social and Legislative Issues Committee session “Building Diversity and Equity in Academic Surgery: Current State and Strategies for Improvement”.
The afternoon SUS Presidential Session “Maintaining the Fire: Physician Wellbeing, Resilience, and Intentional Culture” included four excellent speakers who addressed the reciprocal domains of physician wellbeing: personal resilience, culture of wellness, and efficiency of practice. The first speaker Dr. Catherine Cheng (Northwestern) described the five stages of culture from undermining to innocent wonderment, with the majority of people exhibiting the lone warrior or "I'm great" culture. She described how the five realms of health (nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, relationships) allow us to achieve a higher culture of tribal pride ("we're great") or innocent wonderment ("life is great"). This was followed by Dr. Andrew Hill's (Middlemore Hospital, New Zealand) inspiring personal story of burnout, resulting in a deeper understanding of mindfulness. He compared life to sailing, saying “What guides us to a different destination in life is determined by the way we have chosen to set our sail." He compared a human who is able to practice mindfulness to the coquina walls of Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, FL. Coquina, made of sea shells, does not shatter when hit by a cannonball, but rather absorbs the hit and bounces the cannonball without shattering.
The third presentation was by Dr. Gary Dunnington (Indiana University) on building intentional culture as Chairman of the Department of Surgery. He described how he was able to define core values, hire according to those values, invest in his faculty, measure performance, identify bright spots, and coach outliers. He also described his metrics to measure the success of the culture including faculty engagement and vitality, faculty divorces, faculty retention including the number of internal promotions to leadership positions and retention of chief residents as faculty. The session was concluded by an insightful and humorous presentation by Dr. John Chuck (Kaiser Permanente) who described the interventions which Kaiser has designed for physician resilience and wellbeing. He described the seven arms of wellness: personal and professional resilience, practice management, collegiality, prevention, physical fitness, healthy eating and healthy communities. Kaiser works with physicians to develop ten habits which allow them to achieve the seven arms of wellness, which include self-care, mindfulness, value congruent living, gratitude, healthy eating, exercise, rest and recovery, adaptability, cultivating meaningful relationships and self-compassion. By providing a symphony of solutions, Kaiser aims to be the best place to get care, but also the best place to work. He concluded by offering to share all the programs which Kaiser offers to anyone or any institution which may be interested.
This wonderful session was followed by the SUS Joel J. Roslyn lecture, “Attacking Pancreatic Cancer: Leveraging the Academic Surgeons Tools” delivered by Dr. Herb Zeh. He eloquently described his academic journey to achieve funding. He described how surgeons can run neoadjuvant trials and perform translational correlative science. He then described his experience building the robotic pancreatic resection program with over 500 whipples, 260 distal pancreatectomies, 40 central pancreatectomies, and 40 appleby procedures. He attributed much of the success of the program to his team, specifically to the curriculum established by Dr. Melissa Hogg.
Prior to the afternoon break Professor Graeme Poston, DSc, FRCS, a hepatobiliary surgeon from Liverpool delivered the BJS lecture “Precision Surgery for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer”. This award was very special for many reasons, not the least being Professor Poston's experience working with Dr. Townsend as a research fellow. He described the significant advancements which have been made in our understanding of the biology of colorectal liver metastases. He described some of the differences seen in patients from the East, as compared to the West.
The afternoon was wrapped up with the two parallel sessions the Basic Science Plenary and the Clinical/Health Services Research Committee “Selecting the Appropriate Data Source for the Question: a Review of the Most Commonly Used National Databases”.
The SUS Business Meeting was held during the early evening, where the 37 new SUS members were introduced.
The evening was closed out with the residents playing Surgical Jeopardy. The winning teams were from the Ohio State University Medical Center, and the two players were Drs. David Strosberg and Taehwon Yoo.