Executive Director's Column: On Milestones


Robert A. Wynbrandt, Executive Director & General Counsel

STS News, Winter 2013 -- We again interrupt the series of guest columns recently appearing in this space to bring you a year-end/year ahead view of the Society from the STS staff perspective. It has clearly been a year of significant milestones for the Society, regardless of one’s vantage point, with yet another year of major milestones on the horizon.

As Jeff Rich aptly notes in his President’s message, 2012 was a year in which STS once again broke new ground, particularly in the arenas of medical device approval and reimbursement coverage in the United States. With TAVR technology as the backdrop and with colleagues from the American College of Cardiology as our primary partners, virtually all of our departments, from Government Relations to the STS Research Center to Education and beyond, were engaged in significant projects aimed at addressing this disruptive technology. Even our headquarters office got into the act, with teams of industry representatives coming to Chicago to meet with Jeff and other STS leaders for purposes of exploring how corporate and professional society leaders could appropriately pursue their common interests to serve patients with the aid of new technology.

Other important milestones played significant roles in the lives of the STS staff this past year, from the rookies (12 of our employees have been with the Society for less than 1 year) to the veterans. Just to name a few: the Society took on management of the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education (February 1) and CTSNet, Inc. (March 1), with those entities joining the Southern Thoracic Surgical Association, the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association, Women in Thoracic Surgery, and the Joint Council on Thoracic Surgery Education as specialty organizations for which the Society now provides administrative management services; hosted its first quality improvement webinar (on blood conservation, with 636 participating sites); was, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, for the first time in its history the subject of a cover story in a magazine for association management professionals; conducted its first standalone VADs symposium (to critical acclaim); rolled out a new long-term CABG survival calculator to complement our existing short-term CABG risk calculator; and introduced a variety of communications initiatives, including publication of the electronic STS Weekly for Society members and other new e-newsletters that are targeted for specialized audiences (e.g., representatives from companies exhibiting at our Annual Meeting and STS-PAC supporters), as well as a new press release program that has garnered increased (and well-deserved) public attention for The Annals. And of course the biggest milestone celebrated by the STS staff this past year was its own 10th birthday; we’ve come a long way since our 9.5 FTEs opened these doors on the 23rd Floor of 633 North Saint Clair on June 1, 2002.

And yes, we have some pretty significant milestones to look forward to in 2013, as we initiate the celebration of the Society’s 50th year during our upcoming Annual Meeting in Los Angeles, culminating with our milestone birthday party a year later in Orlando. The number 50 also will have prominence in the year ahead as it relates to the STS staff, with the number in our ranks slated to pass that threshold by mid-year. Other milestones to look forward to include the Society’s participation in the ABIM Foundation’s Choosing Wisely® initiative that is designed to encourage physicians and patients to discuss alternative treatment options and share in medical decision making (more on this Tuesday morning, January 29, in Los Angeles); the addition of anesthesiology data to the Adult Cardiac Surgery Database; and an expansion of the Society’s webinar offerings.

As with life in general, the experience of a dynamic, multi-faceted organization like the Society is not just composed of one milestone success/celebration after another. There are jarring wake-up calls in life (the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy being the most recent as of this writing), and the STS family is not spared its share of sadness, as exemplified by the recent deaths of giants Hal Urschel and Carolyn Reed. As all of us enter the New Year after a holiday season in which it felt especially important to express our love and appreciation for others who hold important positions in our lives, know that the entire STS staff wishes you and yours the milestones of good health and happiness in the year ahead. We look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles.