SVS officer corps on the record: priorities, opportunities and a few revealing facts

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President Peter Lawrence—two priorities to drive surgeon and patient education

While in Chicago for an SVS officers retreat, President Peter Lawrence took time to outline his agenda and how he hopes it will take SVS forward.

VS: What agenda priorities have you established for your term?

President Peter Lawrence

Dr. Lawrence: There is an opportunity, which should be led by SVS, to see that physicians who treat vascular disease are as well educated as possible, and to make sure patients with vascular disease get great care. So, I’ll be concentrating in two major areas: making sure the SVS annual meeting is as good it possibly can be and strengthening relationships with other societies, including vascular surgery societies in the U.S., as well as international vascular surgery societies and other non-surgical societies that treat vascular disease as part of their practice.

VS: What changes to the annual meeting are you considering?

Dr. Lawrence: There is clear consensus among SVS leadership that our annual meeting is absolutely first-rate, but there are always opportunities to improve.

For example, we’re looking at new ways to incorporate technology; the possibility of offering maintenance of certification for vascular surgeons at the annual meeting, and how we might be responsive to the interests of subspecialists, such as surgeons whose practices are limited to venous therapies or angio access or only wound care and critical limb ischemia.

VS: How would SVS benefit from reaching out to other societies?

Dr. Lawrence: SVS members are already benefiting greatly from our international outreach. Many of the innovations in devices and in diagnostic and treatment approaches are being developed outside the U.S.—first, because our international colleagues are very talented people, and secondly, because they’ve had greater access to new devices. We have an opportunity to learn from each other when surgeons from many countries attend our meetings.

We’ll continue to benefit by building strong relationships with societies on each continent, and also by entering into healthy relationships with other U.S. societies. That might mean strengthening our relationships with other national surgical societies, such as the Society for Clinical Vascular Surgery; regional societies; or a group like the American Venous Forum, which has multiple specialties within it; or even non-surgeon groups, such as the Society for Interventional Radiology, or the Society for Vascular Medicine.

Combined or co-located meetings, for example, or the possibility of inviting vascular ultrasound specialists or venous specialists to attend and present talks or sessions at our meetings are opportunities to consider.

VS: How does your agenda take SVS forward?

Dr. Lawrence: Improving the annual meeting and building relationships with other societies will both lead to greater interaction and exchange of ideas and experience among vascular surgeons and with others who participate in diagnosing and treating vascular disease. Ultimately, the point of intersection is education, which is the basis for better patient care.

VS: How does the work of SVS contribute to patient care today?

Dr. Lawrence: A number of different committees and groups work on multiple programs that impact patient care. The training SVS provides at meetings for budding medical students, residents, and fellows is one example. Our members teach surgical techniques through simulation to help make the next generation of vascular surgeons the best endo and open surgeons they can become.

We also work with the vascular research community to see that the very best papers are presented at our meetings. Those presentations and other information that our members take home are studied and applied, both in research labs and in clinical settings, to improve patient care.

One example is the SVS Vascular Quality Initiative (VQI), our multi-institutional database that provides data to our physician safety organization, and which has led to outstanding papers which are presented at the VAM. These presentations contribute new information that changes treatment protocols and many times changes how care is delivered.

In addition, SVS has a rich library of patient resources, including articles and patient stories, postings about device alerts, and videos. These resources are available online to help patients gain a better understanding of various vascular conditions and treatments so that patients can be better prepared to consult with their physicians and make more informed decisions.

The Journal for Vascular Surgery is another important contributor to patient care. The journal focuses on peer-reviewed articles of clinical results, but also has important review articles and practice guidelines which have been developed through our document oversight committee. The findings published in JVS have led to great strides in patient care. Since the first issue was published in 1984, the impact on patient care over the last 30 years is quite substantial.

VS: What might members be surprised to know about you?

Dr. Lawrence: I have an interest in restoring old houses, building and working on boats, and enjoying them once completed. I competed in sailboat races during my youth and even up to my residency. I started by sailing a “Moth,” which I built, and in the world junior championships, I came in second of 150 boats. I was actually in first place in 1978 in a borrowed boat in the first U.S. Laser championship—until the boat was hit by a competitor in the side; I limped home and have not done competitive racing since then. I love the beach, the ocean, boogie boarding, sailing, all things relating to boating, and also restoring old houses, all of which my parents also enjoyed.

My immediate family is “geographically challenged.” For the last seven years, my wife has been serving as president of Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, while I’m at UCLA. Our older son has been living and working for Ralph Lauren in Hong Kong; last week he moved to Taiwan to manage that country’s business. Our younger son, a new Princeton PhD in comparative literature, is looking for an academic job and could land anywhere. We’ve made the distances work and each of us benefits from having interesting and challenging experiences, doing what we like most.

VS: Anything else you want to share with SVS members?

Dr. Lawrence: I’ve learned through years of gradually increased involvement in SVS that this is an organization that will thrive only when members get involved. We have a great staff and support team in Chicago, but there is no management team that can run the society for us. SVS has thrived, and will continue to thrive in the future, as people recognize they have an opportunity to participate, but also a responsibility. Our society will only be as strong as our members make it.

Getting to know SVS Officers Drs. Fairman, Hodgson, Makaroun and Perler

Drs. Fairman, Hodgson, Makaroun and Perler shared their thoughts about what they hope to contribute as officers.

What opportunities are you most excited about for SVS?

Dr. Kim J. Hodgson

Dr. Makaroun: The SVS is becoming the recognized leader in vascular education and research, the prime advocate for excellence in care delivery for vascular patients, and a representative of the entire vascular workforce not only in the U.S., but across the world.

Dr. Fairman: I am particularly impressed with how the SVS VQI has matured in such a relatively short period of time. I also am enthusiastic about the importance of the SVS Foundation in kick-starting the academic careers of our young academic members.

Dr. Perler: Today, as practitioners in multiple fields are engaged in treating circulatory disease, there is no question that the SVS has an enormous opportunity, and I would argue responsibility, to brand the specialty—to educate the public, referring physicians, administrators and payers about the unique and distinctive competencies of vascular surgeons that distinguish us from the competition.

Dr. Hodgson: The SVS represents the only physicians who can truly offer patients all of the possible options to treat their vascular disease and, therefore, treat vascular patients in the most individualized and unbiased manner. That, along with initiatives such as the VQI, puts the SVS in a leadership position for the management of vascular disease in the outcomes-driven world we are entering.

Serving as an SVS officer is a huge investment of time—what motivates you?

Dr. Hodsgon: The opportunity to have a positive impact on the success and future of my specialty.

Dr. Fairman: Candidly, it is highly stimulating, broadens my career experiences and positions me to enhance the development of younger faculty.

Dr. Makaroun: I actually view it as an honor. The SVS and vascular surgery have given me a lot, and it is only appropriate to give back. It does require time to be an officer, but countless other members give just as much to the society. It is truly inspiring to see how many vascular surgeons give freely of their time to the SVS and our specialty without asking for anything in return, not even recognition for the effort.

Dr. Perler: There are many members in the SVS who contribute selflessly to the SVS and are deserving of holding leadership positions so that I consider my selection to be the greatest honor of my professional career. The only way I can thank the membership for this privilege is to pledge to give every ounce of energy I have to serve the society, to serve the interests of our members and, most importantly, to serve the interests of our patients.

What is your vision for the future of the society?

Dr. Makaroun: Become the recognized leader and authority for everything vascular.

Dr. Hodgson: The SVS thrives when vibrant member participation keeps moving our specialty forward, and we are blessed with energetic young vascular surgeons anxious to do so.

Dr. Perler: The SVS will grow in membership and influence and will continue to be the leading voice for vascular surgery and forum to disseminate knowledge, develop practice standards, and allow us to participate in an increasingly global health care system.

Dr. Michel Makaroun

Dr. Fairman: We need to take a leadership role in establishing international practice guidelines, grow our collaborative relationships recognizing areas of specialty overlap, continue to support the maturation of our VQI program, pursue clinical research funding focusing on evidence based therapy, better engage our community practice members, and work aggressively in Washington to enhance the value of our specialty.

What is the last great book you read?

Dr. Fairman: “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand.?

Dr. Perler: “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War” by Robert M. Gates. This book offers great lessons in what a leader is supposed to be.

Dr. Makaroun: Book: “Flash Boys” by Michael Lewis.

Dr. Hodgson: “Rutherford’s Vascular Surgery.”

What is your favorite aspect of the annual meeting?

Dr. Makaroun: Meeting old friends and making new ones.

Dr. Perler: The camaraderie. Getting together with colleagues and friends, not only for the exchange of ideas and to learn from each other, but in the social interactions.

Dr. Hodgson: Getting together with colleagues from all over the world to share knowledge, techniques, unanswered questions and enjoy the camaraderie.

Dr. Fairman: This is a tough question, as I enjoy most aspects of the VAM. I would have to say the Presidential address, which is an opportunity to learn more about the senior leadership of our society.

What might the members be surprised to know about you?

Dr. Bruce Perler

Dr. Fairman: When I finished my residency and fellowship, I took a loan from a bank and went into solo private practice in Philadelphia. I established myself at one of our Penn-affiliated teaching hospitals so I had the opportunity to continue teaching residents and medical students. I ultimately built a large diversified clinical practice and became Chief of Surgery before I was drawn back to academic practice at Penn enabling me to re-create my career.

Dr. Makaroun: That my favorite pastime is to play with my grandson.

Dr. Perler: Despite my quiet personality and apparently serious demeanor, I have a great sense of humor! And, I actually do have a personality.

Dr. Hodgson: That I’ve taken to wearing ties.

If I weren’t doing this …

Dr. Makaroun: I’d be an architect.

Dr. Hodgson: I’d be a nature photographer.

Dr. Fairman: I’d be doing more fly fishing, sailing, volunteering and restoring old sport cars.

Dr. Perler: I’d be unemployed – I mean, what else would I want to do that’s better? Well, when the money ran out maybe law, most likely a constitutional lawyer.

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