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Your SVS: Meet Your New President, Dr. Darling

Dr. R. Clement Darling III began his presidency of the Society for Vascular Surgery on Saturday, June 3, during the Vascular Annual Meeting.

1. What would you like your presidency remembered for?

It’s truly an honor to be the president of the Society for Vascular Surgery. I am humbled by the hard work and dedication of all the men and women who devote their lives to the treatment of patients with vascular disease. Every day, we work as a team with specialty trained nurses, vascular technologists and office staff in diagnosing, treating and providing life-long care plans to our severely ill vascular patients. I think this reality needs to be reflected in our annual meeting. To do so, we must broaden our membership to include all of these groups. This "inclusive" approach will strengthen our brand as the leaders in vascular care and assist SVS members in learning how to set up a multidisciplinary system in their hospitals and practices.

As physician reimbursement moves toward a quality-based system, I think it is mandatory that we, as vascular surgeons and as a Society, be at the forefront to promote appropriate indications, effective treatment and standardized follow-up. This is an excellent opportunity for us to brand our specialty as one that is a leader in quality vascular care and less about physicians who do specific procedures.

By including the entire team, we can provide a comprehensive approach to vascular care. This will bring us together in how we treat patients and will be valuable for hospitals to understand that it is the vascular surgeon who is a critical resource in the treatment of these diseases.

Lastly, we really need to get our young vascular surgeons and trainees involved in the Society. We need their fresh ideas and their passion. We need to continue to evolve, and their involvement will move us forward and promote superior vascular care for our patients.

2. What changes do you see coming to the Society?

The Society has undergone an evolution over the past decade. We need to be an agile society, one that is responsive to the needs of its members but also reacts to changes in the practice environment. I foresee merging all aspects of vascular care such as vascular nursing, vascular ultrasound and outpatient interventions as well as in-hospital vascular care, regardless of practice model (university- or community-based).

I think by creating an accreditation and validation system for both inpatient and outpatient procedures as well as standardization for workup and follow-up, we will push our brand forward. We must continue to work with other specialties as partners but I expect us to be a recognized leader. Under the superb guidance of Dr. Ken Slaw, our numerous committees of more than 400 volunteers can accomplish these goals.

So, in essence, what changes do I see? I see us playing an active role in the validation of vascular centers as well as those who accept vascular emergencies. I see us working to create the standard for indications for inpatient and outpatient vascular procedures. I see us being very aggressive in submitting practice guidelines and quality metrics for patients undergoing work-up and treatment for vascular disease. We are entering a new era of training that includes cost-effective care and changing practice models, so we must be aggressive in being ahead of the curve.

3. What major challenges do you see facing vascular surgeons, and how can SVS help members face those challenges?

I have a tremendously optimistic view for vascular surgeons for the future but there are some major challenges, including an aging population coinciding with an aging and smaller vascular surgery workforce, changes in payment and reimbursement, physician burnout and quality-of-life issues.The SVS is planning for the future with committees working on reimbursement, verification and validation of our inpatient and outpatient procedures, and continued creation of multidisciplinary practice guidelines.

In addition, the SVS is going to help provide courses in leadership for not only our younger surgeons as they start their careers but also for senior surgeons as they exit clinical activities. Let’s use our members’ tremendous skills throughout their careers.

We have a significant number of surgeons who are aging but still have years of experience, knowledge and judgment in the appropriate care for patients with vascular disease. They can help us answer whether an intervention is cost-effective and beneficial for the patient over the long term.

Vascular surgeons are born leaders and excellent problem-solvers. Let’s be active in hospital administration and in the third-party payment process.

We need to be the ones to push this forward, and also be actively involved in its implementation. I think the SVS is positioned to offer this support for our members and I know we can flourish in these leadership positions.

If any member has an idea, thoughts or prospective plan, please do not hesitate to email me at darlingc@albanyvascular.com.

We are always looking for your input. This is your Society and we are here for you. Thank you very much for the privilege of being your president.

R. Clement Darling III, MD