The ASMBS 30th Anniversary

Influencing patient care

Growth of Integrated Health

Presidential Gallery

An ASMS Allied Health Sciences Committee was officially formed and for the first time an Allied Health member was invited to be an official nonvoting member of the ASMBS Executive Council.

I was the first appointed chair of the ASBS Allied Health Committee (sort of). During the 1990 ASMBS Annual Meeting, Dr. George Cowan brought a proposal to the Executive Council to start a new committee, the Allied Health Sciences Committee, to recognize the importance of the interdisciplinary work in bariatric surgical practice, develop a forum for inter-change of ideas, initiate networking within the allied health community, and provide a means of better meeting the mission of the ASMBS. The Council unanimously approved the committee. I was appointed co-chair of the committee. The committee was charged with running an official allied health sciences meeting at the annual meetings. I was excited and waited to hear from the chair on how I could assist. I didn’t hear from her. I thought that meant she had it handled and didn’t want input. Then, two weeks prior to the 1991 ASBS Annual Meeting, she called to inform me she was no longer going to be working in the filed of bariatric surgery, she had no communication with any other allied health members over the past year, had not started any type of planning for the upcoming allied health meeting, wished me the best of luck and hung up. The only program option at this point was to organize a roundtable discussion. I was able to get meeting space and then announced the meeting to all attendees, prepared some questions to get things started and hoped for the best. About twenty allied health professionals showed up, all with great interest and many, many questions of their own. It was the most amazing meeting. We all connected and proceeded to talk for hours. This was a very important meeting as the attendees left with a wealth of information, contacts and sense of camaraderie. The Allied Health Sciences Committee was off and running!

Following that meeting, I started a newsletter for the Allied Health Committee to help keep our group in touch and informed and in hopes of attracting more allied health members. Many people contributed articles on a wide variety of topics such as Pre-operative Education, Epidural Analgesia, How Can We Motivate the Bariatric Patient, and Equipment and Supply Needs of the Morbidly Obese Patient.

For the 1992 and 1993 AH program we had formal presentations on specific topics given by presenters known for their expertise in specific areas. I was unsure of what type of response I might receive when I first called to invite people to present but I received very warm and enthusiastic responses.

By 1995, my last year as chair of the Allied Health Science Committee, the strength of the allied health presentations and the popularity of our meeting was enough to warrant a full day meeting. One hundred people attended this meeting. A whole day with 100 people – I was thrilled! At the time it was really something but just read the stories of the leaders who succeeded me and you will see how their expertise and talents have lead the Allied Health Committee (the now Integrated Health Section) forward to be a very professional, scientific, and vital part of the ASMBS.

It is my pleasure and honor to work beside all the dedicated IH professionals of the ASMBS.

The most important achievement of my term was that the then, Allied Health Committee, one of the many Committees of the then ASBS, was changed to a Section, within the ASBS. It became the Allied Health Science Section. This change took place to recognize the importance and difference of the Allied Health members to the ASBS.

Other highlights include the following:

  1. Workshops were introduced to Allied Health meeting sessions
  2. The AHSS worked with the surgeon members to coordinate a “day on the hill” where ASBS members met with Washington DC politicians in advocacy.
  3. The first Support Group Network Committee session took place at the Annual Meeting in 1998
  4. My term was the last where the Allied Health Chair (now president) was  “appointed” by the ASBS Executive Council. Subsequently, elections would be held within the IHSS to determine the Chair.

Below are some of my thoughts, reflections of my presidency. I was the first elected IH president (then called Allied Health). I was fortunate to be in leadership during a time of great growth in IH membership.  During this time we had the first IH essentials course   and there was standing room only. The faculty included myself, Barbara Metcalf RN, Melody Moorehead PhD, Alan Wittgrove MD, Leslie Jester NP, Leslie Jaroch RD.  IH expanded into their own full day of courses and general session at our annual meeting.

We also achieved a vote on the Executive council and the groundwork began to add another IH member on the EC. We also formalized our own board IH board.

Other projects that were started during this time were the committees to work on the guidelines for pre-operative psychological evaluations and the nutritional guidelines and the CBN. Kathy Fox established the idea of a CBN program earlier. It came to fruition by the support of both the IH and EC board and industry. And as time went on. The hard work of Bill Gourash and the CBN committee made it a reality. This time was a fast pace of growth, development and recognized value of the integrated health professional.


Deborah Cox, RN

The three most important events during my time as chair were our name change (Allied Health to Integrated Health), the development of nutrition guidelines, and the addition of two Integrated Health voting members to the ASMBS Executive Council. We also created the Clinical Guidelines and Communications Committee, helped develop the Membership booklet and new website, and developed the IH session into its current format.

The single most important “Integrated Health Section” achievement of my term as president was the development and completion of the first Integrated Health Strategic Plan. This was the first time that Integrated Health had an opportunity to examine and define the breath of the many disciplines that composed the Integrated Health Section as well the important issues within and between them. This was followed with charting a direction for growth and establishing goals for every aspect of Integrated Health. Additionally, it gave Integrated Health the structure to develop objectives and activities to move toward achieving these goals. Through this process the definitions of “Integrated Health”, and “Multidisciplinary Team” were explored and new committees established (e.g. Multidisciplinary Care Committee, Professional Education Committee) and newly established committee like the “Clinical Issues and Guidelines Committee began to take on a greater meaning.

My term as president was exciting for the Integrated Health Section of the ASMBS. Similar to the organizational leadership, we have started to align our projects and activities within the section around our strategic plan. An emphasis has been placed on reaching out to the membership for committee participation while maintaining a mix of disciplines and experience levels. As a result we have seen many new faces on the Integrated Health (IH) committees. I hope to see many more in the coming months as we are in the planning stages of developing a website tool to help streamline committee volunteering and recruitment.

Here are just a few highlights from the past year from our hard-working committee volunteers:
• IH Nominating Committee – Revised and improved the IH Elections process
• IH Clinical Issues and Guidelines – Completed their first paper, “Gastric Band Adjustment Credentialing Guidelines”, and began a collaborative effort with the American College of Sports Medicine to develop exercise guidelines for metabolic and bariatric surgery patients
• IH Professional Education – Merged with IH Program committee to streamline IH education
• CBN Certification – Launched the CBN Recertification program and began recertifying CBNs
• Launched committees for IH Communications, IH Support Group and the IH Multidisciplinary Care committee

It was a term full of change and new developments. At the same time many of us are experiencing workplace change and pressures, it takes untold dedication to pursue the goals of the committees in addition to our “day jobs.” For that reason, I am especially proud of the hard work and dedication of our volunteers. I am also extremely grateful for and impressed with the staff at the ASMBS office. Their dedication to supporting the membership through this change and growth has been invaluable.

The focus of my presidency thus far has been in two areas.  The first focus of my presidency was out of necessity.  As the only IH representative to the committee development of the MBSAQIP guidelines, I had a great responsibility to the society.  Making sure Integrated Health was fairly represented I felt was key to the continued institutional support of the role of the Integrated Health Care Team.

The second goal of my presidency is to promote the value of IH membership beyond the meetings.  I am guiding the IHEC to help our committees focus on member benefits in the following areas:

  1. On line Tool kits and guidelines written by some of the best experts in the field of bariatric surgery to share best practice ideas and assist Integrated Health in their practice:
    1. Nutritional Guideline Update
    2. Psychological Assessment Guideline Update
    3. Gastric Band Adjustment Guidelines
    4. Sensitivity Training Guidelines
    5. Support Group Ideas
    6. Exercise Guidelines in conjunction with the ACSM
  2. We are also working to scientifically study the value and impact of Integrated Health for our patients.  The multidisciplinary committee is doing a multi-year project to assess and quantify the current standard for Integrated Health member across the membership.  Future goals include working with the MBSAQIP to collect data on  outcomes as it relates to the impact of the multidisciplinary team.
  3. We are working to develop a way to allow Integrated Health members in each specialty to continue their networking beyond our meetings.  The new communication forums should be ready for unveiling at Obesity Week. We have had several informal e-mail groups but look forward to this “members only” on-line communication.  I am hopeful that this quality network and of source information will make the price of IH membership worth it even if member funds do not allow travel to our meetings.
  4. Finally accreditation will be back as a mandate as the research will validate the role of the scientific approach to best practices in bariatric surgery.

Top Members

Linda Aills, RD LD

Chair of the ad hoc committee that authored the ASMBS Allied Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient

Jeanie Blankenship, MS RD CLE

Pioneer of evidenced based practice in nutrition in bariatric surgery, ad hoc committee member that authored the ASMBS Allied Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient

Dale Bond, PhD

Prolific and pioneer researcher and author in area of physical activity and bariatric surgery

Laura Boyer, RN CBN

Recognized for encouraging and the development of new and diverse leadership within Integrated Health and fostering collaborative education courses with the surgeon section

Cynthia Buffington, PhD

Prolific author in nutrition and metabolism issues related to obesity and bariatric surgery, ad hoc committee member that authored the ASMBS Allied Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient

Pamela Davis, RN CBN CCM

Nationally recognized bariatric surgical patient advocate, Inaugural chair of the Integrated Health Clinical Issues and Guidelines Committee, Chairman of the Obesity Action Coalition

John Dixon, MBBS, PhD

A provocative lecturer and prolific author and researcher in the area of bariatric surgery especially adjustable gastric banding and affects of bariatric surgery on Diabetes. Specifically author of a number of RCTs in the bariatric surgical literature exemplified by Adjustable Gastric Banding and Conventional Therapy for Type 2 Diabetes Randomized Controlled Trial. 2008 JAMA

Margaret Furtado, MS RD LDN

National & International expert, presenter and author in bariatric surgical nutrition and obesity weight management issues; ad hoc committee member that authored the ASMBS Allied Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient

William Gourash, MSN CRNP

Founding chair of CBN Certification program/committee, Coordinated the development of the integral Integrated Health Strategic Plan, Integrated Health Associate Editor for SOARD

Walter Lindstrom, Esq

Pioneered and championed individual patient and group legal issues relating to access to bariatric surgery

Georgeann Mallory, RD LD

Pioneer in clinical bariatric surgical nutrition, 1st Integrated Health Section president, and Executive Director of ASMBS

Tracy Martinez, BSN RN CBN

Pioneer in bariatric surgical nursing, international lecturer and author, ASMBS Foundation Presidents service award and Circle of Excellence awardee, Instrumental in fostering Integrated Health representation on the Executive Council

Jessie Moore, APRN

Co-chair CBN Certification Program/Committee, Leader of the Examination Development Subcommittee of the CBN Certification Committee

Melody Moorehead, PhD ABPP PA

Pioneer of the investigation and dissemination of the importance of psychological issues in bariatric surgical patients. Co-author of initial ASMBS recommendations for Psychological Pre-Assessment of Bariatric Surgical Candidates, Co-author of Moorhead-Ardelt Quality of Life Assessment

Julie Parrott, MS RD CPT

Prolific lecturer, and course director of a vast array bariatric surgical nutrition topics,  ad hoc committee member that authored the ASMBS Allied Health Nutritional Guidelines for the Surgical Weight Loss Patient

Bobbie Lou Price, BSN RN CBN

International presenter, author and researcher in bariatric surgical nursing, Instrumental in name change from “Allied Health” to “Integrated Health”

Kathleen Renquist, BS

Along with Dr. Mason, she developed and managed the International Bariatric Surgery Registry, which started in 1986. This was the first large bariatric surgery registry

Stephen Ritz, PhD

Co-author of initial ASMBS recommendations for Psychological Pre-Assessment of Bariatric Surgical Candidates, Championed the focus of the importance of support groups and instrumental in the current revitalization of the Integrated Health Support Group Committee

David Sarwer, PhD

Prolific researcher, author and lecturer regarding obesity, Bariatric Surgery and psychological issues especially body image, QOL and sexual functioning, Pioneer director and developer of the annual meeting Behavioral Health Course

Stephanie Sogg, PhD

Landmark researcher in area of substance abuse and preoperative evaluation of bariatric surgical evaluation of bariatric surgical patients, Co-author in an investigation of Behavior Health Practitioner interest in bariatric surgical credentialing

Christopher Still, DO FACN FACP

Advocate of bariatric surgery, Expertise in clinical nutrition, Prolific researcher and author in areas of bariatric surgical outcomes, postoperative patient expectations, genetics of obesity, medical management of bariatric surgical patients

Lisa West-Smith, PhD LCSW

Lecturer on an array of bariatric surgical topics including emotional eating and eating behavior after bariatric surgery, co-author in an investigation of Behavior Health Practitioner interest in bariatric surgical credentialing

Honorable Mentions

Karen Flanders, NP CBN

Jennifer Gianos , RN CBN RNFA

Wendy King, PhD

Diane LeMont, PhD

Joe Nadglowski

Michael S. Parish, PsyD

Cathy Reto, PhD

Karen Schulz, RN MSN CBN

Mary Lou Walen

Bryan Woodward, MPH LCEP