STS Amplifies Commitment to Reinvesting in the Specialty

STS News, Summer 2018 -- Every summer, the STS staff initiates the process of constructing a budget for the following year that reflects the organization’s financial resources and strategic plan, much like any other medical specialty society. Since 2013, however, the Society’s budgeting process has included a unique component that remains unusual among its peer group: a portion of the budget is specifically devoted to special projects, programs, and affiliated organizations (apart from regular STS operations) for purposes of “reinvesting in the specialty.”

The annual amount available is dictated by a spending policy first proposed on behalf of the STS Finance Committee by Past President John E. Mayer Jr., MD that is dependent on the size of the organization’s investment portfolio.

Five years after its adoption, and again at the recommendation of the STS Finance Committee, the Board of Directors recently amended the organization’s spending policy in order to make even more funding available for reinvestment in the specialty. As a result of this modification, STS spending policy funding will increase from $904,000 in 2018 to approximately $1,138,000 in 2019.

“We wanted to be sure that we are good stewards of our money,” said Mark S. Allen, MD, Chair of the Finance Committee and an STS Past President. “The purpose is not only to grow an endowment to a large sum, but also to use it wisely in advancing the specialty. The revised policy will free up more money to be used without endangering the Society’s financial stability.”

“The purpose is not only to grow an endowment to a large sum, but also to use it wisely in advancing the specialty.”

Mark S. Allen, MD

The original policy provided a guideline for the Society to spend 2% of its investment portfolio balance for purposes of reinvestment in the specialty. The updated policy relies on a hybrid calculation tied to both the Society’s investment portfolio and its budgeted expenses.

One organization that STS has supported over the years is The Thoracic Surgery Foundation (TSF), which now functions as the Society’s charitable arm. TSF offers awards, scholarships, and fellowships to support research and education in cardiothoracic surgery. STS completely underwrites the Foundation’s management expenses so that every dollar donated to TSF directly supports its award programs. In addition, the Society has provided lump sums toward specific awards and participated in a matching gift challenge, whereby STS has matched up to $200,000 of surgeon donations in a given year. (See page 13 for details on the 2019 TSF awards program.)

STS also has funded Women in Thoracic Surgery scholarships for female medical students and residents to attend the STS Annual Meeting and the Carolyn Reed Traveling Fellowship, the Thoracic Surgery Directors Association Boot Camp event, fellowships offered by the Thoracic Surgery Residents Association, and scholarships to attend the General Thoracic Surgical Club Annual Meeting. 

“Although the formal spending policy is only about 5 years old, STS has given out approximately $6 million over the past 10 years,” Dr. Allen said. “This includes funding for electronic education and simulation and for research and fellowship grants to promote young investigators and surgeons. The Society is committed to its mission of enhancing the ability of cardiothoracic surgeons to provide the highest quality patient care through education, research, and advocacy—and our revised spending policy offers a clear pathway to do just that.”

With more than $230,000 of increased funding available under the STS Spending Policy for 2019, the Finance Committee has developed an innovative Request for Proposals that soon will be disseminated to the cardiothoracic surgery community. Proposals will be due by November 15, 2018, and it is anticipated that the STS Board of Directors will be acting on those initial requests at its January 27 meeting in conjunction with the 55th Annual Meeting. If you have any related questions, contact Keith Bura, Director of Finance and Administration.