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 Presidential Update 12/06

Richard H. Gelberman, MD
December 18, 2006

The ASSH Council met at the beginning of December to discuss a variety of strategic issues.   I’d like to bring you up to date with the actions taken.

Governance
A Governance Task Force, under the leadership of Tom Trumble, MD and Ghazi Rayan, MD was charged with reorganizing the Council board makeup and committee reporting structure to increase the expertise on Council, the quality of information and interaction between committees and Council, and to increase the efficiency of our governance process.  Committee structure changes will take place in September 2007 while the Council position changes will take place over a number of years, as current terms are gradually completed. 

Three competency based director positions will be added to Council to provide additional competency in key areas.  These three new positions will have expertise in key areas that relate to our most important strategic goals.  Those new positions are:  Research Director, Education Director and Practice Management and Government Affairs Director.  Related committees will now report to these Directors, who will expertly relay their respective committee recommendations to Council.  To keep Council at its ideal size of 13-14 members, we are eliminating the Secretary, Penultimate Past President, and one of the Member-at-Large positions as those positions expire.  There are currently six Member-at-Large positions, three over-eight positions and three under-eight positions.  The new Member-at-Large positions will be set at 2 under eight years, 2 over eight years, and 1 flexible position with no membership year limitation.  The Executive Committee will now be a smaller group consisting of the President, President-Elect, Vice President, Immediate Past President and the Treasurer (Finance Director).

Additionally, the competency based directors will lead our newly reorganized education, research, and practice management/government affairs divisions.  The competency based directors will have face-to-face meetings each year with the committee chairs in their divisions.  Finally, the application process for committee and Council positions, including the new competency based directors, will be streamlined next year.  All of the applications will be completed online using a web-based surveying tool.  Calls for available positions will go out in 2007.

Bylaws
All of the Council structural changes discussed above will need to be approved by membership via an email proxy ballot, which we expect to go out in the next month or so.  Additionally, at the request of Canadian applicants, Council voted to approve a revision of the ASSH bylaws to include Canadian members in Candidate membership.  This proposed change to the bylaws will be part of a major bylaws ballot sent to all voting members. 

International Task Force
Council devoted a significant amount of its time to discuss ways in which the ASSH could become more involved in the international hand surgery community and encourage international hand surgeons to participate in ASSH courses and meetings.  Leading the process, Alexander Shin, MD had Council members divide into discussion groups to consider four questions:

  1. How can the ASSH encourage international attendance at its annual meetings?
  2. How can the ASSH increase its visibility at international meetings?
  3. What are ways the ASSH can encourage international membership?
  4. How might international JHS subscriptions and other opportunities increase ASSH stature in the international community?

As a result of these discussions, Council and staff are currently investigating a number of ways the ASSH might more actively join the international community.  For example, Council is considering forming an International Travel group to attend overseas meetings every other year.  As the IFSSH meets in Sydney in 2007, the first meeting of the ASSH International travel group will be to the 2009 British Society’s annual meeting.  Tim Davis, FRCS of the BSSH will work with Peter Weiss, MD of the ASSH to make this meeting, which can accommodate up to 100 ASSH members, a very rewarding scientific and social event.

Future meetings under consideration are with the Asia Pacific Society and with FESSH in Europe.  Other initiatives include the creation of a guest society program for our annual meeting.  The Japanese Society for Surgery of the Hand (JSSH) has accepted our invitation to be the 2007 guest Society.  Also, in 2007, we plan to unveil a Carousel program, inviting the Presidents of England, France and Japan to attend the Annual meeting as special guests.  Each president will attend the Council dinner and a working breakfast in the Presidential suite. 

Finally, Alexander Shin, MD will work with his task force on developing a comprehensive strategic plan on international relations and interaction, reporting on their findings at our May 2007 meeting.

Research Task Force Update
Presented by Chair Kevin Chung, MD, the Research Task Force provided its recommendations on how the ASSH can reach the next level of effectiveness in research.  Though ASSH alone may not be able to have an expansive impact in clinical research, we are currently exploring research partnerships with the NIH to see how we might increase our research impact in working with others who have research expertise.  Kevin will report the findings and recommendations of his task force to Council in May.

Program Development Fund
The ASSH Council has asked the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand to focus its efforts on a capital campaign designed to significantly increase our endowment for research funding.  Anne Miller, MD, President of the AFSH, will lead a Research Campaign Task Force to determine how best to conduct our capital campaign, determine what organizations or individuals we might partner with, and what members should be involved in which parts of this important initiative. 

The Council feels that our new program of research is so critical to the future of the field that we allocated $400,000 from this year’s surplus and created the Program Development Fund within the AFSH to demonstrate our commitment to expanding our program of research.  We hope to increase the AFSH’s assets from the current $3.2 million to $6 million by 2010.  The funds will be used directly for research, which will improve the content and quality of articles in JHS, improve the quality of papers and research presented at out annual meeting, and thus drive innovation and improve patient care.  

Young Leaders Program
The 2006 Young Leaders Program was another great success.  This was the third class of Young Leaders to learn strategic decision-making and share their thoughts will Council.  The class was divided into three subgroups to analyze and make recommendations for three main topics: practice success for young members, emergency hand call, and collegiality.  Council considered their many thoughtful ideas and suggestions.  A number of their recommendations are already being implemented.

Maintenance of Certification
Council continues to explore ways the Society can be helpful to its members in preparing for recertification.  President-Elect Steve Glickel, MD, and Chair of the MOC Task Force, provided an update on the Task Force’s recommendations.  Their recommendations were approved by Council in concept, though further research must be done before any are implemented.  They are: to develop a novel three-year rolling curriculum in the JHS, coordinate the new curriculum with HSU and with the MOC, create a section of the ASSH website that helps members track their CME and certification information, find ways to make past Self-Assessment exams in hand surgery and related disciplines accessible to members, and provide improved review opportunities at our annual review course and through selected products thought to be most helpful with achieving the goals of improving knowledge and successfully completing the MOC cycle.

Journal Task Force
A new task force will be charged with reviewing the Journal of Hand Surgery.  W. P. Andrew Lee, MD will lead this effort and report back to Council in May 2007.  The Journal Task Force will investigate how the Society might further improve the JHS – looking at best practices with the world’s most effective scientific journals.  The goals also include the development of improved international distribution.

A subgroup of the Journal Task Force will be led by Ghazi Rayan, MD.  That group will closely examine the use of the “Review” section of the Journal.  Their goal is to analyze the best options for converting this section into an innovative, cyclical review with a rolling curriculum that is coordinated with MOC.  The group will study one of the most successful and longest standing recertification review products, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Pediatrics in Review, in devising a new format.  The new review section may include a CME component.

You can also always contact me if you have an interest to join a particular effort at gelbermanr@wustl.edu.

Happy Holidays,

Richard Gelberman, MD