December 2017 Presidential Update

Updates from the December 2017 Council Meeting.

From December 7-9, Council convened in Chicago for our annual December meeting.  We worked closely with staff to conduct a meeting focused on advancing the Hand Society’s goals and initiatives while strengthening relationships within Council to build a collegial and productive board culture.  Below are some of the highlights of the meeting, which will carry over into our work for the next nine months:


In 2014, Past President Scott Kozin, MD laid the foundation for the Hand Society’s current Outreach program by launching the Touching Hands Project.  The following year, Past President Bill Seitz, MD enshrined the Hand Society’s commitment to Outreach by making it one of the pillars of the ASSH Strategic Goals along with Education, Research, Practice, and Organizational Excellence.  This year, I asked Fraser Leversedge, MD to lead a task force to review our existing Outreach initiatives, with the objective of unifying these efforts under cohesive organizational oversight.

Thanks to Fraser’s thoughtful and thorough analysis, Council moved to create a new division within the Hand Society – the ASSH Outreach and International Engagement Division, which will encompass a broad range of programs aimed both at fostering relationships with international hand surgeons and assisting underserved communities at home and abroad.  The International Relations Committee, Touching Hands Project, and Volunteer Services Committee will all fall under the umbrella of this new division, which will be helmed by a new Outreach Division Director.  The Nominating Committee will solicit applications for this new role in early spring 2018, concurrent with their selection process for the next Practice Division Director.  Council member Steve Moran, MD will serve as the interim Outreach and International Engagement Division Director until elections are held, so we do not lose momentum.

Nominating Committee

Thank you to everyone who participated in the election to fill two 1-year vacancies on the Nominating Committee.  Julie Katarincic, MD from Brown University and Melvin Rosenwasser, MD from Columbia University will join appointed members Miguel Pirela-Cruz, MD, Steve Peterson, MD, Jeffrey Friedrich, MD, and Angela Wang, MD. 


In October, the Journal Advisory Group (JAG), chaired by Vice President Marty Boyer, MD, FRCS(C), began a search for an editor-in-chief to helm the Hand Society’s new open access journal, JHS GO.  Following an open call for applications, JAG reviewed submissions from many qualified candidates and conducted interviews of two finalists.  I am very pleased to announce that Council has approved JAG’s recommendation of Tamara Rozental, MD to serve as the new JHS GO editor!  Congratulations to Tamara – we all look forward to watching you run with this exciting new opportunity.

Sponsor Your Hand Therapist

This holiday season, I encourage you to consider sponsoring your hand therapist to become an ASSH Affiliate Member.  Our therapists are valued members of our teams, allowing us to provide the best possible continuity of care to our patients.  Rewards of membership include access to Hand-e, a subscription to The Journal of Hand Surgery, learning and networking opportunities, member discounts and more.  Giving your hand therapist the gift of ASSH membership is simple and shows your therapists the high regard and esteem in which you hold them. Thanks to Sanj Kakar, MD and Pamm Schroeder, CAE for setting up this program.

ASSH Leadership Program

As an experiment in 2017, we joined the Young Leaders Program and the Mid-Career Leaders Program to create the combined ASSH Leadership Program.  A diverse group of 15 members received an intensive introduction to the governance of the Hand Society facilitated by Past President Ghazi Rayan, MD, and were given the opportunity to present mega-issues to Council on topics of pressing relevance to all hand surgeons. 

Group 1, consisting of Reid Draeger, MD, Sonu Jain, MD, Stephen Kennedy, MD, Mary Claire Manske, MD, and Amy Moore, MD, presented timely recommendations to give guidance to members in combating the opioid crisis.  Group 2, consisting of Reena Bhatt, MD, Erin Brown, MD, Kyle Chepla, MD, Allan Peljovich, MD, MPH, and Mark Rekant, MD, analyzed the Hand Society’s current educational offerings and provided innovative solutions to address gaps and advance our educational mission.  Finally, Group 3, consisting of Mihir Desai, MD, Michael Forseth, MD, Walter McClelland, MD, Nathan Morrell, MD, and Erika Sears, MD, suggested potential tools to help members face physician burnout.  Council was impressed by the Leaders’ creative problem-solving, and we will incorporate their ideas into our ongoing program of work. 

Surgical Simulation Task Force

Council heard a fascinating update from the Surgical Simulation subgroup of the Innovation Task Force, chaired by Ranjan Gupta, MD.  They are working to respond to the training challenges created by duty hour restrictions by creating a surgical simulation curriculum and toolkit for fellows.  Using this toolkit, fellows will be able to practice skills, such as microvascular anastomosis, drilling with depth of feel, and needle placement for arthroscopy, using common household tools that cost less than $500 in total.  Dr. Gupta’s task force will hold another fly-in meeting to further develop their ideas in the spring.  This important work will be presented in a symposium at the Annual Meeting in Boston, and will give our fellowship programs new educational tools to employ.   

American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand

To strengthen our commitment to the research, education, and outreach work of the Foundation, both ASSH and ASSHPO approved transfers of funds to the AFSH, for a total donation of $2.5 million dollars.  Since 2011, ASSH and ASSHPO have donated $7.3 million to the AFSH, contributing to a total Foundation portfolio of $20.7 million.  These funds are distributed across the Foundation’s “buckets”: $8.2 million in unrestricted Research funds, $5 million in unrestricted Outreach funds, $2 million in unrestricted Education funds, and $4.7 million in named funds. The Foundation plays an integral role in supporting the strategic goals of the Hand Society, and I encourage all of you to consider the Foundation when planning your end-of-year giving. 

Looking Forward

I am excited about the progress that has already been made towards my presidential theme, “Inform, Innovate, and Inspire.” Check in on our progress in my “100 Words” column in Weekly Member Update each Friday to learn about the latest developments in our ongoing work.

Happy holidays to all!  I hope you have some well-deserved time with family and friends.


James Chang, MD
President, American Society for Surgery of the Hand