It was my honor to serve as the 26th and first woman President of our society. I served at a pivotal time in the history of metabolic and bariatric surgery when our contribution to the care of the patient with obesity and metabolic disease was recognized by unanimous acceptance of our value into the wider community of surgery. The ASMBS Executive Council and the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons unanimously embraced the unification of the ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence Program and ACS Bariatric Surgery Center Network accreditation and quality programs into MBSAQIP: The Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program. The articulation of our highest values in the care of patients in the form of the standards of this unified program, our commitment to the accurate recording of our data and the use of that data to improve the morbidity and mortality of care distinguishes the professionalism of this specialty. In a single decade we decreased the mortality of surgery from 1/200 patients to 1/1750 patients, a remarkable achievement. Metabolic and Bariatric surgeons emerged, with the help and support of our integrated health colleagues, from the shadows of surgery to become the leaders in defining quality patient centric care.
Concomitant with these historic changes, the year as President-Elect and year of the Presidency was also dedicated to facilitating a reorganization of the society to evolve to a structure that would allow us to bridge to the future by aligning the work of our volunteer membership in committee, dedicated staff and financial resources with our strategic plan. We expanded our relationship with other key stakeholders like the Obesity Action Coalition and the Obesity Society and increased our efforts to secure access to care. The pathophysiology of obesity and the mechanism of action of the metabolic procedures became clearer and further work was done to define the indications for surgery for diabetes. New voices were encouraged and emerged within the committee structure. The engagement of our membership accelerated as the leadership reached for increased transparency around the path to leadership and dedicated the committees to the promotion of increased value to the membership.
These achievements were the work of many in the membership of ASMBS, but the dedication of the executive council will remain as a testament to the courage to lead: John Baker, MD, Senior Past President; Bruce Wolfe, MD Past President; Jaime Ponce, President Elect; Ninh Nguyen, MD, Treasurer; and Council-persons at large: David Provost, MD, Samer Mattar, MD, Marc Bessler, MD, Emma Patterson, MD, John Morton, MD, Raul Rosenthal, MD; Integrated Health members Laura Boyer, RN, Karen Schultz, NP and Georgeann Mallory, Executive Director. Due to their clarity of vision the ASMBS is poised to embrace and to lead the future.
The ASMBS is a unique, diverse group of individuals driven by the passion of caring for those people whose burden of obesity leaves them the victim of discrimination and prejudice. It is to these people and their burden that we dedicate our service. There is no higher calling.
Robin Blackstone, MD