Important Decisions for the Society's Future - An Update from President Akelman

Presidential Update 06/13

Edward Akelman, MD
Edward Akelman, MD
June 2013

At our recent Spring meeting in Boston, Council had some significant and thoughtful discussions and made important decisions for our Society's future. We are taking steps toward becoming a more technology-driven society, offering more content through multiple outlets to benefit our growing membership.

I am thrilled to report that there are 104 applicants eligible for active membership this year, one of the highest applicant numbers ever and easily the most applicants recorded in a single year over the last decade. In addition, there are 71 individuals eligible for international membership in 2013. The number of international applicants this year is the highest in the Hand Society's history, all thanks to a Council strategy led by Kevin Chung, MD, to enhance our relationships with hand societies around the world.

The good news doesn't stop there. I am excited to announce that the American Society for Surgery of the Hand recently received approval for 501c3 status. C3 status is the most favorable type of not-for-profit classification; this change will allow us to take tax-deductible contributions for the building (e.g., Chase Library) and potentially use the building to support the AFSH's 25th Anniversary Campaign.

As I mentioned, there were important decisions made at the May 31-June 1 Council meeting. Here are the major highlights:

ASSH Reserve Goal
To prepare the Hand Society for the future, Council approved a formal reserve policy. This new policy was well researched by our Treasurer, Jim Chang, MD, who took the time to compare reserve policies of many other medical societies. After careful consideration, Council set a goal of reserving three times our operating budget. We are about 2/3 of the way there, and Council will reassess this policy when we reach our goal.

Program Advisory Group
As you may already know, the Program Advisory Group (PAG) reviews 1/3 of our Society's programs every year. Over the past five years, the PAG has saved the Hand Society roughly $100,000 in program modifications and eliminations. This year, the group consisted of Michelle Carlson, MD, Bill Seitz, MD, and myself. We carefully evaluated 35 programs by reviewing data and soliciting input from committee Chairs. Six of those programs were reviewed by the AFSH PAG, which included Fred Fakharzadeh, MD, John Bednar, MD, and Mark Baratz, MD. In the end, Council made the decision to approve the elimination of the Online Journal Club, which will take effect now. All other programs will continue as is or with slight modifications.

New ASSH Hand Transplantation Policy
The Hand Society has adopted a new, modern stance on hand transplantation. Many thanks to Scott Levin, MD, who took the lead in revising our policy. Council approved this unanimously. You can find the full policy posted on our website at this link.

ASSH Textbook of Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery
During the upcoming San Francisco Annual Meeting, members will have the opportunity to purchase the largest publication the Hand Society has ever undertaken. It is a two-volume textbook, which comes with full access to the online version where members can take digital notes, bookmark favorite content, and make the textbook an instant reference on a computer, tablet, or phone. The hard work and dedication of ASSH staff and the Textbook's editors - Managing Editor Peter Weiss, MD, Chuck Goldfarb, MD, Scott Steinmann, MD, David Slutsky, MD, and Ray Raven, MD - for the past five years has resulted in 7 sections, more than 2,000 images, and more than 140 videos in a single publication. Its contents are based on the Surgery of the Hand and Upper Extremity (SHUE) curriculum created by Marty Boyer, MD, and Jim Chang, MD.

What will truly separate this Textbook and make it essential for hand and upper limb specialists, however, is its online platform. Members will have the ability to navigate chapters, photos, and videos easier than ever before. The platform will house all content in one place, ready for you to search each chapter, highlight text, and scroll through images fluidly. Much more information will come your way as the Annual Meeting approaches.

Journal of Hand Surgery
As you already know, the Journal of Hand Surgery (JHS) is an incredibly important ASSH publication. Its readership is growing, and it extends far beyond our membership. As readers increasingly access JHS digitally - through computers or mobile devices - we are well aware that we must follow this trend. As one of his important initiatives, President-elect Scott Kozin has created the JHS Task Force to look into the future of the Journal and determine how to best serve its readership. Brent Graham, MD, will Chair this Task Force, working alongside Marty Boyer, MD, Jim Chang, MD, Scott Kozin, MD, and Alex Shin, MD. The group will look into the elements, features, and functionality we need from a publishing partner and how the Hand Society can take advantage of the new technological tools available, examining the editorial structure and capacity of JHS to ensure its status as the flagship journal of our field. I am confident they will do so, and I look forward to hearing their recommendations in the next year.

Finally, I am excited to update you on the progress of SHUEHORN, the new ASSH online learning platform that will house all of the Hand Society's clinical content (e.g., articles, images, videos, newsletters, books and more). Since the approval of SHUEHORN at the December 2012 Council meeting, the SHUEHORN Task Force Co-Chairs, Michael Hausman, MD, and Ray Raven, MD, have been working weekly with key staff (e.g., Mark Anderson, Dawn Briskey and Mike Lakas) to plan for the gradual implementation of this project, which will become more visible to members over the next 12-15 months. Now, the Task Force will work over the next year to organize and make accessible all clinical content that the chairs and task force members deem valuable for Hand Society members. In fact, this has already begun. Members of the Task Force met in Chicago in April and made significant progress sifting through the Hand Society's video and image content libraries. SHUEHORN will consume a significant amount of time and resources over the next year or so, but the end results will enhance the way we house, find, and use educational content. As this project continues to move along, I will keep you updated.

With some very significant projects in process, I see a very bright future for our Society. I look forward to providing you with additional updates at this year's Annual Meeting, October 3-5 in San Francisco, where we are "going paperless" for the first time in the Hand Society's history. You can look forward to accessing all Annual Meeting content directly on your mobile device.

Until next time,


Edward Akelman, MD
President, American Society for Surgery of the Hand