Leading through Service and Other Themes of My Upcoming Term as President of the ASMBS

| November 1, 2016

A Message from Dr. Stacy Brethauer

Stacy Brethauer, MD, FASMBS, is a staff surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic Digestive Disease Institute and an Associate Professor of Surgery at the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, Ohio. Dr. Brethauer is also President-Elect of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.


Dear Readers,
Welcome to Obesity Week 2016! It is a privilege to address you in this month’s editorial and also a tremendous honor to step into my new role as President of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery (ASMBS). I’m excited and ready to get to work with the great leadership team you have elected. The energy and enthusiasm that the ASMBS membership has for our specialty and our patients is unlike any other professional society and I am thrilled to be a part of such a great organization.

My career path. The path that has led me to where I am today was definitely not traditional. I grew up in a small farm town in eastern Colorado and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder. I studied Biochemistry knowing that I wanted to go to medical school but after finishing the pre-med requirements, I switched my major to a completely unrelated field and earned my Bachelors Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication in 1989. Though this may have been somewhat of a detour before going to medical school, it was a valuable experience that taught me many of the skills I use today in my scientific research, editing, and writing. Plus, it was a lot more fun than biochemistry!

I went to medical school through the military’s program and attended Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences-F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, in Bethesda, Maryland after being commissioned in the Navy. In medical school I met my wife Pam and we both completed our residencies at the Naval Medical Center San Diego after I spent three years as a Carrier Air Wing Flight Surgeon deployed to the Arabian Gulf. After residency, we were stationed in Okinawa, Japan for two years where I practiced “bread and butter” general surgery in a small Naval Hospital. Upon returning to San Diego, I was deployed with the Marines to Taqaddum, Iraq where I served in a forward resuscitative surgery unit in 2004. When my military commitment was completed in 2005, Pam and I and our three kids (Katie, Anna, and Jacob) moved to start my fellowship in Cleveland where we continue to live today.

I was introduced to bariatric surgery in the mid 1990’s during residency in San Diego, California.  At that time, bariatric surgery was performed open and I will always be indebted to Drs. Zorn, Tanaka, Rumsey, and Murphy at Pacific Bariatric for introducing me to this field and letting me do those operations. As I learned more about bariatric surgery, I quickly found that I loved the technical aspects of the surgery and how it helped so many aspects of our patients’ lives.

Finding my role in ASMBS. I am passionate about my career and role within the ASMBS. I’m also grateful and lucky that my family is very supportive of this work which involves a lot of travel and time away for calls and meetings.

I started working with the society when I was a fellow in 2005. I served on the newly formed Clinical Issues Committee under the leadership of Dr. Eric DeMaria and got busy developing and writing position statements and guidelines for the society. I was then brought on as Co-Chair of that committee with Dr. Bruce Schirmer, and later became Chair. This committee was a great fit for me and I continue to be involved in the development of these important documents. That job provided me access to the executive leadership of the society and over time I was assigned to various task forces and working groups and eventually was elected as a member-at-large on the executive council.

I am a firm believer in helping those around me reach their full potential and am very fortunate that the ASMBS has so many current and future leaders within its ranks. I hope to build on the important work of our past presidents by engaging our private and community surgeons, supporting and strengthening our state chapters, and further utilizing the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) to drive quality and value in our practices.

I have already started working with Dr. Rami Lutfi who chairs the Community and Private Practice Surgeons Committee to identify areas where ASMBS can add value to the practices that aren’t university-based or academic. This initiative was started by Dr. Raul Rosenthal and I will continue this work with Rami to make sure that the activities of the society and the meetings serve all of the membership.

The state chapters are the foundation of the society and I look forward to visiting many of the chapter meetings over the next year. In addition to the educational activities and networking, the state chapter meetings provide a great opportunity to develop quality collaboratives and mentorship programs that can benefit all of the members.

I’m also looking forward to developing new initiatives, including the second national quality improvement project—Employing New Enhanced Recovery Goals in Bariatric Surgery (ENERGY), which will begin November 2016. The program will include 30 or 40 MBSAQIP programs with the goal of implementing enhanced recovery strategies on a large scale. One important focus of the project will be to implement opioid-sparing pain management strategies to do our part in decreasing the plague of opioid addiction in this country. ENERGY will also examine length of stay, patient experience, and many other variables that can potentially drive care toward greater value. Beyond ENERGY, we will work to deliver this program to a much broader audience; delivering the protocols, educational materials, and  lessons learned to all of the MBSAQIP practices.

Looking toward the future. Our specialty has come a long way since I had my first exposure to bariatric surgery, and I’m looking forward to being a part of what the next year will bring. In the United States, we have seen new obesity interventions come to market in the past five years with the approval of medications, endoscopic therapies, and other devices.
We should embrace these new therapies while also ensuring that they are done safely in the right patient and the in the right setting. We need more tools in the toolbox and the ASMBS is dedicated to making sure that our members have access to the training and education required to bring these new therapies to their practices.

I hope everyone has a terrific time in New Orleans and enjoys Obesity Week 2016. I look forward to working for all of you in the next year and hope that you will contact me or the executive team if we can help you with anything.

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Best wishes for a great year,

Stacy Brethauer, MD, FASMBS

Category: Editorial Message, Past Articles

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