Dear SVS Members:
I am extremely proud, albeit somewhat overwhelmed by the scope of its contents, to introduce the 2011 Society for Vascular Surgery Annual Report. The Society for Vascular Surgery® (SVS) continues to grow exponentially in both its membership and the scope of its activities. “Strength in numbers” seems a prerequisite for any successful medical professional group and in the context of a deliberate effort to make SVS the representative society for all vascular surgeons, our membership has increased nearly 60 percent over the past five years, now approaching 4,000 members and facilitating our goal to represent the entire vascular health care provider community. We are the largest medical professional society concentrating on the spectrum of noncardiac vascular disease.
Our activities continue to expand like the spokes of a wheel from our central hub, i.e. 1) our vision to be the recognized leader for the comprehensive care of vascular patients, 2) our mission to promote vascular health and comprehensive treatment for patients with vascular disease, and 3) our focus as being founded on our core values of integrity, professionalism, and commitment to our patients and our profession. From this central hub, our goals and objectives, delineated within the past few years, center on continuing education, defining our specialty to health care providers and the public, being the recognized source for practice guidelines on vascular disease, fostering research to optimize patient care, and the related goals of our voice in Washington, and the need to increase the supply of vascular surgeons. I am pleased to report that substantial progress has been made and is ongoing in virtually each of these strategic goals and objectives. This mission is, in turn, carried out by a broad spectrum of our members in the form of some 30 or more committees and councils staffed by nearly 300 of our members.
Perhaps symbolic of our continued growth and success is the perennially successful Vascular Annual Meeting®, which appears to break records every year for both attendance and the breadth of its educational activities. Our congratulations and thanks to Immediate Past Program Chair, Dr. Peter Lawrence, and our current Program Chair, Dr. Ronald Fairman, for outstanding efforts in the growth and the success of the Vascular Annual Meeting. In June 2012, the setting for our Vascular Annual Meeting will be our nation’s capital, and in addition to educational activities, it is our plan to visit our legislators to ensure that the voice of vascular surgery is strong in Congress. The ongoing efforts of our Political Action Committee (PAC), chaired by Dr. Carlo Dall’Omo, and our Health Policy Committee under Dr. Sean Roddy, and our now two full-time staff in the Washington, D.C., office need to be acknowledged in this regard.
An important initiative launched within the past year and entirely consistent with my vision for SVS is the SVS Vascular Quality Initiative®. This effort, as yet only seven months old, was launched by our Board of Directors because we feel it is important for SVS to be a leader in national quality efforts concerning vascular interventions. Its three component parts (a uniform registry, the SVS Patient Safety Organization (PSO), and the facilitator regional quality groups) will function jointly to achieve this goal. Currently, some 150 institutions or practices across the country are actively enrolling vascular procedures in this registry and regional quality groups are either formed or coming together nationwide. SVS is the only medical professional society with an Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) – sanctioned patient safety organization. Soon a large repository of nationwide data will be available for benchmarking, quality control efforts, and research initiatives. This is an effort that I have much invested in personally, as I chair the SVS PSO Governing Council and am extremely pleased that our leadership over the past several years brought this concept to reality. An ever-increasing number of our members are involved and I urge you all to become part of this effort, which in turn will pay important dividends in your practice and quality control efforts. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the broad-based experience and efforts of our SVS PSO Medical Director, Dr. Jack Cronenwett.
Among the SVS strategic goals enumerated above, I have taken personal interest in what I consider to be an unmet goal, namely facilitating an increase in the number of newly trained vascular surgeons. Both projections of the total numbers of practicing vascular surgeons and the actual data from our fellowship training programs reveal a relatively flat trajectory in the vascular surgery workforce. Bringing quality vascular care at all levels of practice in all types of practice settings can only be accomplished by increasing the supply of vascular surgeons. While many surgical subspecialties have seen a dramatic decrement in the pool of qualified applicants for training programs, the now five-year-old 0-5 integrated vascular residency training paradigm has been fabulously subscribed and is among the ACGME’s most avidly sought subspecialty training programs. It is my hope to exploit the success of both our training tracks to increase the supply of vascular surgeons and a special working group has been convened to facilitate this objective.
Our vision for SVS and our specialty flows from accomplishing our goals and objectives elucidated in 2008 and detailed above. Substantial progress has been made in many arenas, not the least of which is the ever increasing number of women embarking on careers in vascular surgery.
As highlighted in the 2011 E. Stanley Crawford Critical Issues Forum, many elements of health care reform potentially threaten our ability to deliver quality health care, in particular, to our seniors. Physicians and surgical specialists, in particular, appear to be convenient targets for cost-containment efforts, although this perspective on the health care cost issue is myopic indeed. Yet, at the same time, the message should be loud and clear to our members that your involvement in tangible ways, such as supporting the SVS PAC, are vitally important to carrying our message to our legislators in Washington.
The path has been outlined in the form of our strategic goals. I urge you all to vigorously support SVS and to become involved in its broad spectrum of activities.
Richard P. Cambria, M.D.
President, Society for Vascular Surgery