I am proud and honored to be your ISS/SIC president. I look forward to working with the presidents of the integrated societies, a great executive committee, a diverse council, and a strong administrative office to move the ISS/SIC into new territory. This new territory includes the offering of ISS/SIC partnerships with national and regional surgical societies, allowing blocks of surgeons to join our ranks at a reduced annual fee, and providing ISS/SIC and integrated society experts to attend and present at national surgical societies. In the past year, we have signed memoranda of understanding with the national surgical societies of Peru, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia, as well as the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA). We have received additional interest in partnerships from Latvia, Ecuador, and Egypt. In the absence of a ‘block membership’, the new annual dues structure is designed to align dues to be affordable across the broad spectrum of national income averages.
In addition, we are launching a membership task force, led by Italo Braghetto, our councilor-at-large from Chile, and Kathleen Casey, recent past president of ASAP. The charge to the task force is to identify new strategies and tactics to increase our membership. Five strategies immediately apparent include streamlining the application process, facilitating membership amongst interested students, leaning into our integrated societies to help recruit during their regional courses such as Definitive Surgical Trauma Care (DTSC) by IATSIC and the outreach work done by BSI and IAES. As well, Dr Braghetto has re-energized the national delegates to increase exposure of the ISS/SIC during national congresses, to recruit their peers, trainees, and students.
Fundamental to recruitment efforts is the provision of value to prospective members. Half of the value equation is making ISS/SIC and the International Surgical Week (ISW) affordable to the world. A great deal of work has been done in this arena by reducing membership fees, providing travel scholarships, and minimizing the costs of the congress. The other half of the equation is the provision of services and opportunities not available anywhere else in the world. I think we can deliver on this.
The International Surgical Week (ISW) and the World Journal of Surgery (WJS) are two “jewels in the crown”, often pointed to by society leaders. While these two items are indeed foundational to our identity as the world’s leader in international surgery I think there is an even more compelling reason to belong: The ISS/SIC is the seat of international surgical democracy. With our offices in (arguably) the most politically neutral country in the world (Switzerland) the ISS/SIC is indeed a dispassionate proponent of scientific discovery and surgical care advancement AROUND THE WORLD.
There is no other surgical society with the history and track record of bringing the latest scientific advances –wherever discovered – onto the world stage, presented by the most distinguished surgeons in the world and by the brightest young minds from around the globe. More recently, the direction of the ISS/SIC to bring leadership in the provision of surgical, anesthesia, and critical care services to low and middle income countries is unparalleled. By combining the strengths of the World Journal of Surgery, a society focused on global inequities in care (ASAP) and through the myriad efforts of the foundation and integrated societies, a small society such as ours can make a big difference. Despite that we are small relative to the American College of Surgeons, or the Royal College of Surgeons of England, our ‘root system’, our network of engaged surgeons around the world and our truly democratic spirit of identifying leadership agnostic of country of origin is a feature that no one can duplicate.
Finally, and most importantly, the ISS/SIC allows surgeons the chance to develop friendships and scientific collaborations with individuals, universities, and societies that they could never have imagined. Durable mentorship relationships develop that span specialty and geography. The international catalog of colleagues grows exponentially. There is hardly a country in the world that you might visit where there isn’t a friend in the ISS/SIC. It has been my experience that surgeons in the ISS/SIC are the most gracious and hospitable of any in the world. If there is anything we can do for you, our member, feel free to reach out to me or to Ken Boffard, our Secretary-General through surgery@ISS/SIC.com. We hope to see you in Kuala Lumpur!!
John G. Hunter
President International Surgical Week (ISW) 2021