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Announcing the ASMBS Community Surgeons Committee: Promoting a Stronger Connection between Surgeon and Society

| April 1, 2016

A Message from Dr. Alan Wittgrove

Alan Wittgrove, MD, FASMBS, is Medical Director of Wittgrove Bariatric Center in La Jolla, California. He is a past president of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.


Dear Readers:
I’d like to begin by expressing how happy I am that Dr. Raul Rosenthal has been elected and is now serving as President of the American Soceity for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). My excitement has many facets, which I will explain. I’m also honored to have the the opportunity to be the Guest Editor of this issue, substituting for him during this busy time.

My main interest through my tenure in ASMBS has been, first and foremost, the patients, followed closely by the welfare of the men and women treating those patients. The membership of the ASMBS is made up evenly of surgeons and integrated health (IH) professionals. I’m happy to see that the IH readers have their own representation in Bariatric Times through the IH Continuing Education Department and column “Hot Topics in Integrated Health.” I encourage the IH readers to look for a CE article and activity in an upcoming issue!

Here, I’d like to address the surgeon readers. How have the surgeons viewed their affiliation with ASMBS through the years? I feel that there was remarkable comradery through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. I believe (and there is no “evidence-based research” on this) that many of our members feel somewhat disenfranchised over the past several years. Sensing the same feelings of disconnect by the surgeon membership, 60 percent of which are not in “academic” or “university settings,” Dr. Rosenthal created a new committee called the Community Surgeons Committee, chaired by Drs. Rami E. Lutfi and Marina Kurian.
The community surgeon committee, on which I also serve, has taken on the mission of attempting to understand the various “unique” challenges facing private practice. Through this understanding, we would like to work with the ASMBS executive council to assist and give those surgeons in private practice more of a feeling of belonging within their society.

Community Surgeons Committee—Mission Statement:
This committee is composed of surgeons who work to serve their community, focusing mostly on the clinical aspects of bariatric surgery. They are in private practice or are employed by community hospital or nonacademic health care system.

The committee will identify different practice models in the United States. They will focus on setting best standards in these different models and hospital environments. The committee will address financial, business, and other issues facing these practitioners.

Members of the committee will advise the executive council on trends of practice, relevant issues to the community surgeons. We will address and discuss challenges facing community practice to deliver high quality care. This work will allow this group to be privy to potential challenges and adverse changes and thus, enable ASMBS to be proactive dealing with these issues.

The committee will also work to create pathways and tips of for community surgeons to help them build high quality comprehensive programs to improve outcomes across the board.

Community Surgeons Committee—Objectives:
1.    To represent the interests of the independent practitioners in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery.
2.    To identify the challenges unique to independent practitioners in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery and provide practice based solutions to these challenges.
3.    To address best practice guidelines in the context of unique practice models.
4.    To screen for different trends in the practice of bariatric surgery or endoscopy and communicate as needed with the Executive Board about patterns that may lead to major changes that need to be addressed in a timely manner.
5.    To offer a course outlining best practices and utilization of resources to maximize success of the practitioner

It would be easy for the committee members to list the issues they feel are important to the ASMBS members; the issues they feel that have broadened the chasm between them and the ASMBS. What is more important to the committee, however; is how you, the member surgeons, feel. To that end, the committee is sending out a survey. The survey questions are not lists from a drop-down box. They are open ended. It is in this format because we really do want to know how you feel, and what you believe are the issues and challenges. When you receive the survey, I encourage you to comment fully and truthfully. I also want the surgeon members to feel comfortable in contacting me or any other members of the committee with comments or concerns. We are all busy, practicing surgeons, but I think this is worth everyone’s time.

One last word on this subject. It is difficult to get names right when creating a new group or committee. I hope you will all look past the name and understand the spirit behind this committee. We are not implying that the Community Surgeons Committee is not for “academics,” rather it is for everyone with various appointments and experience. Also, the term private practice has changed in that so many surgeons now work for the hospital in one way or the other. University-based surgeons serve their communities as well. Again, we encourage you to look past the nomenclature and embrace the idea behind this committee, which is encouraging all members to feel more connected to the ASMBS. This is a hope of mine, Dr. Rosenthal’s, and other leadership of ASMBS.

Last but not least, I hope you enjoy this month’s issue of Bariatric Times. There are many wonderful articles in this edition, but I would like to highlight this month’s installment of “The History of Bariatric Surgery.” Dr. Himpens shares his experience of performing the first robotic cholecystectomy. I found this to be quite interesting on multiple levels. I love innovative work and this event is not only historic, it is also right in our wheelhouse as general surgeons. It is also potentially pertinent to future work in bariatric surgery. Robotic history in surgery is not even 20 years old. I have used a robotic camera holder for about that same time. Robots in industry come in all shapes and sizes, but that evolution has not occurred in the field of surgery as of yet. Though there hasn’t been much evidence on how robotic work helps patient outcomes, 3D visualization and surgeon “comfort” may be enough to allow further development in this field. If we are going forward with this technology, I always think it’s best to understand where we came from, and so I thank Dr. Himpens for his contribution.

I hope that you all learn from and enjoy this month’s issue. Please join me in congratulating Raul once again and thanking him for the important work he is doing as ASMBS President.

Sincerely,
Alan Wittgrove, MD, FACS, FASMBS

Category: Editorial Message, Past Articles

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