When SVS President Julie Ann Freischlag, MD, went off to college at the University of Illinois, her goal was to become a high school biology teacher. Instead, she became the sixth woman to receive a certificate in vascular surgery, served as the first female president of SVS, and recently was named the vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the school of medicine at the University of California, Davis.
“All of this happened because of something we don’t typically do in vascular surgery–take chances,” Dr. Freischlag said. “I served as SVS president because the membership gave me a chance, and I took it. We all need to take chances. Imagine where you want be in 15 years and then think about how you will get there.”
In Dr. Freischlag’s presidential address, “Of Strategies and Chances,” she urged the audience to take a chance. “Take a chance on yourself, on those around you, and on those you do not yet know,” she said.
During her speech, Dr. Freischlag acknowledged her family and colleagues whose support she values.
“Sometimes we forget that most of the personal sacrifices we make also cause someone else to make a personal sacrifice,” she added.
In her address, Dr. Freischlag detailed the Society’s recent accomplishments, including the growth of the Vascular Quality Initiative, additional practice guidelines and quality measures, increased emphasis on vascular research, and “ownership” of 13 quality measures, of which CMS chose eight for the PQRS program.
In the area of education, SVS diversified the methods used to deliver educational content to members, broadened the opportunities to stay current on new procedures and devices, provided self-assessment offerings for MOC re-credentialing requirements, and developed strategies for CME tracking. In addition, mentoring opportunities were expanded for medical students and new programs were developed to attract candidates to vascular training.
Led by the chair, Cynthia Shortell, MD, the Education Committee’s accomplishments included SVS offering two online webinars and more than 100 scholarships given to medical students and residents to attend the Vascular Annual Meeting.
The Society has also made an effort to expand knowledge of vascular surgery to relevant audiences. This includes the “Conditions, Tests and Treatment” section on VascularWeb, which has nearly 1million visitors each year, a reinvigorated SVS Facebook page, and special media outreach programs in Boston to cover the Vascular Annual Meeting.
SVS will also be collaborating with other societies and encouraging the NHLBI to establish PADnet, similar to the CTSnet program. SVS and the Society of Interventional Radiology are sponsoring the FDA-approved study of IVC filters, which is expected to start in mid-2014. The SVS Foundation will continue to support young researchers through its collaboration with the NHLBI on K08 and K23 awards. In addition, SVS collaborates with the American Heart Association on an annual conference that focuses on vascular research initiatives.
She pointed out that SVS has had significant successes in the area of sustainability, including a positive operating margin for the last four years, and total assets more than doubling from 2007 to 2013, from $4 million to over $8 million.
Continuing her “take a chance” theme, Dr. Freischlag urged members to learn a new surgical or research procedure, take on a new responsibility, consider new positions, and most especially consider taking a chance on others. This last recommendation is particularly important for getting more women to participate in the field, especially in areas of leadership.
“There are 3,083 board-certified vascular surgeons in the country who are men and 233 who are women,” Dr. Freischlag said. “We certified 199 men and 42 women this year. Much progress has been made, but more needs to be done.”
She showed a picture of the team on her first case at the University of California, Davis. “By chance, all four surgeons are women,” said Dr. Freischlag. “The women are in this picture because someone gave them a chance. They took that chance, they were rewarded, and now they can give patients a chance.”