May, 2012 - A Commitment to Education
|93rd AATS President
Hartzell V. Schaff, MD
Education is a key element of the AATS mission: Promoting Scholarship in Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery. We are committed to continuing high quality AATS educational activities and have significantly increased the number of events in which the Association is participating. In addition to our Annual Meeting, the biannual AATS Aortic Symposium and AATS Mitral Conclave, we have reached out to collaborate with our affiliated and related organizations throughout North America and around the world. We have joined with the American College of Cardiology for the fourth consecutive year in sponsoring our joint Heart Valve Summit which will continue in 2013 and 2014. We have initiated a new interaction with the Turkish Society for Cardiovascular Surgery on their annual symposium in November of this year, continued to support the European Society of Thoracic Surgeons on their Postgraduate Symposium in June and collaborated on the 11th International Conference of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMIG). Additionally we will sponsor our first "Focus on Thoracic Surgery: Lung Cancer" program in Boston this November. We are continuing our ongoing relationship with an annual postgraduate course at ASCVTS, and are cosponsoring the Annual CVT Critical Care Conference, sponsored by the Foundation for the Advancement of CardioThoracic Surgical Care (FACTS-Care) under the chairmanship of Nevin Katz, MD. A complete list of our sponsored and co-sponsored programs appears on the AATS website.
Several years ago, we developed a formal process for organizations to request AATS co-sponsorship support. These requests are vetted through the Education Committee for consideration by the AATS Council. This has precipitated a significant growth in our educational outreach and has allowed us to expand into areas of great importance to our specialty. As we broaden our scope into these additional activities, it has become apparent that AATS needs a brand recognition that will afford immediate identification of an AATS course, initiative, product or publication. We must develop a visual identity for the organization so that every association project will be recognized as an AATS initiative.
AATS' educational efforts will continue to have a specific focus on programs geared towards younger colleagues and potential surgeons-to-be. In 2007, the concept of a Summer Intern Program was established to provide medical students an opportunity to spend dedicated time in a cardiothoracic surgery department. Now in its 5th year, the AATS Summer Intern Program has introduced the field of cardiothoracic surgery to almost 200 first and second year medical students.
It is essential that we get our younger colleagues involved in our specialty at an early age. Not only will they benefit from our guidance and mentorship, but we gain from their unique perspective and innovative ideas. We are planning to add a resident poster presentation session to the 2013 annual meeting to encourage more resident participation and will sponsor an online subscription to OpTechs for all cardiothoracic residents in North America. In addition, the 2012 AATS Leadership Academy broadened its focus to include residents in their last year of training or in their first year of an academic appointment. We believe that the experience of the AATS Leadership Academy, where the faculty to attendee ratio is 1-1, provides a valuable exposure to the challenges and responsibilities of an academic career.
The AATS has made several changes to the infrastructure of the organization, including more clearly defined responsibilities for the officers and councilors, and making the Graham Foundation a more vibrant and essential research arm of the Association. Several bylaw changes have been approved by the membership which we believe will create a more efficient organization. Over the past two years, we solicited self-nominations for committee participation from the general membership and were overwhelmed with the response. This year, over 40% of the new appointments to committees were filled by self-nominees. A tremendous wealth of new ideas and initiatives has come from this infusion of “new blood” and we will continue to urge AATS members to become involved.
Next year, the AATS Annual Meeting will take place from May 4 - 8, in Minneapolis, Minnesota immediately following the AATS Mitral Conclave in New York City. I am looking forward to welcoming old and new colleagues to this great Midwestern venue, with easy travel access from Europe and Asia, and an exciting downtown area with lots to see and do.
There is a thriving medical device industry in the general Minneapolis area. We plan to take advantage of the close proximity of many of our major industry colleagues based in the area. We are planning a session for Saturday afternoon, "Working with Industry: Implementing Medical Knowledge", chaired by Dr. Patrick McCarthy, which will explain to surgeons how to best become development partners with industry and how to take a device from concept to market."
Our Program Planning Committee will be meeting the end of June to develop the schedule for five days of state-of-the art presentations both didactic and abstract driven. The chairs of the Postgraduate Courses and the Skills Workshops met in San Francisco to begin their efforts to organize their programs for Saturday and Sunday while our Call for Abstracts will be distributed early this summer with a submission deadline of mid-October.
I invite you all to participate in this myriad of educational efforts developed by the Association and recommend you watch these pages for future educational initiatives we have planned for the future.