NEW YORK—Vascular Specialist has a critical role to play in dictating discussion of the key issues that impact surgeons in the field, the publication’s medical editor told a gathering at the 2019 VEITHsymposium held Nov. 19-23 in New York.
The vascular surgery space has seen a proliferation of dedicated periodicals in recent times, said Malachi Sheahan III, MD, leading to what can often be a “very, very confusing” body of literature. That’s where the Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) monthly newspaper can step in and provide some form of clarity, argued the Claude C. Craighead Jr. Professor and chair in the division of vascular and endovascular surgery at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.
Sheahan was delivering a presentation entitled, “Improvements in Vascular Specialist, the SVS newspaper: Opportunities and challenges and how it can benefit vascular surgeons and others,” during a session on the business of vascular surgery. He was talking ahead of BIBA Medical, publisher of Vascular News and seven other medical titles, taking over as publisher of Vascular Specialist and its sister publication Vascular Connections, on Jan. 1, 2020.
In a talk peppered with humor, he joked about Vascular Specialist’s superior circulation to that of the SVS’ Journal of Vascular Surgery (JVS). “I think we’re siblings,” he said. “I don’t think they consider me a sibling. Probably the rebellious younger brother.”
More seriously, Sheahan spoke of the dual roles of the two publications: “JVS is there to dictate patient treatment. What’s my role? I think it is to dictate discussion. I think the best example of that is in burnout.”
He pointed to the January 2019 issue of Vascular Specialist, a special edition dedicated to the hot button topic.
“Burnout was something we started working about two years ago,” Sheahan explained. “The timeline here will show you how I think it’s important for Vascular Specialist to exist.
“March 2017 is when we started writing about it. The SVS formed a taskforce a few months later and then we began our research, which took over a year and a half. Then we presented our results at VAM [Vascular Annual Meeting]. Publication is still pending in JVS.
“You can see if we’d waited to publish in JVS before starting to talk about it we would have lost about two and a half years.”
The January 2019 special issue contained a particularly demonstrative commentary, which was penned by a surgeon in recovery, Sheahan continued.
“Probably the best editorial we ever published, which was an anonymous entry, was by a vascular surgeon who had suffered with addiction, lost his job, ended up in jail, kind of lost everything and found his way back,” he said. “I think it was one of the more powerful pieces I’ve ever had the privilege of publishing.”
Subsequently, the SVS now has a peer support group for members, Sheahan added. All of which serves to underscore the newspaper’s central role in the view of its chief editor: as a platform to tackle tough issues related to the likes of the Food and Drug Administration and the HITECH Act.
But not all topics confronted are necessarily so upright: “Not everything is super serious,” said Sheahan. “I wrote about OR [operating room] attire. And some things are just really self evident!”
He continued: “I think we shouldn’t be afraid of politics. I wrote about guns, I live in Louisiana, and I still had time to write about guns. Sexual harassment, gender discrimination: I think these are important things we should take seriously.
“Not only that, immigration, ‘Medicare for All,’ vaccinations—how they affect us. We’re scientists; we should stand up for science. The AMA [American Medical Association], the American Heart Association, they’re not afraid. The American College of Surgeons isn’t afraid. So we shouldn’t be afraid either.”
Sheahan ended his talk with a call to arms.
“We’re switching publishers and they’ve promised me even more independence, which I’m sure the SVS isn’t too happy about,” he said. “But there are a lot of presentations about being independent—independent board, independent this—but you can’t be independent unless you’re willing to speak independently. And so that’s the thought I will leave you with.”