Linda G. Phillips, MD
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am privileged and honored to write this message to you, serving as President of the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. It is exciting to serve in our Centennial year and share all of the activities planned for celebrating this landmark birthday of the oldest plastic surgery organization on Earth.
Our theme for the Centennial meeting is: "Honoring the Past, Anticipating the Future." Our meeting will of course reflect on the amazing accomplishments of our past leaders and founders of American Plastic Surgery; however, the Association must also continue to look toward and prepare for the future by continuing our primary mission and vision as the leading organization to contribute cutting edge information on basic science and clinical topics relevant to the broad scope of plastic surgery. To maintain our position as the most prestigious plastic surgery organization, we must also recruit the best and the brightest students and residents to our specialty, and the best and the brightest plastic surgeons to the Association.
Our Association is a group of leaders among leaders. We are by nature flexible and resilient and the last 16 months have demonstrated that we can adapt and succeed in some of the most trying circumstances. To continue to flex and adapt to the new circumstances of our second century, we must have, and welcome, members with diverse talents, experiences, passions and backgrounds to reflect our increasingly diverse patient population.
Our Immediate Past President, Dr. Donald Mackay, responded to the need to make our organization more representative of the general population by establishing a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and then proposing Bylaws changes to make both the Women Plastic Surgeons and DEI Task Force standing committees. This was a firm demonstration of the Association's commitment to remain relevant and forward thinking. I also proposed, and the membership voted, to accept the provision that these two committees would further have representation on every standing committee of the AAPS, ensuring that we will have diversity in the room for every decision the Association makes.
Our Membership Committee has spent many hours and several years revising the requirements for membership, to recognize the many types of unique and important contributions plastic surgery leaders make. While we retain strong academic ties, we now recognize and honor those who are leaders in their community, providing service through governmental office, military service, or mission trips, to name a few pathways. This diversity of service types will strengthen our organization and make us more flexible as the needs of our patients and our society continue to change.
In order to further demonstrate this flexibility, in a special election, our members voted to alter our membership process and shorten it so that new members can be nominated and inducted into the Association in less than one year. Nominations will now be due August 1st and completion of applications is required by September 1st. This gives the Membership Committee a lot of work in a short period of time, but the leadership of the committee have indicated that they are willing and able to complete this in time to allow the preliminary ballot to be presented to the Board, as usual, at the October interim meeting, and to continue to allow the AAPS membership to vote on the ballot in January. This will provide new members the opportunity to be presented at the Spring meeting, and this change in process will allow us to induct not one but two classes into the Association at our Centennial meeting next spring, those nominated in 2020 and those nominated in 2021. You will further notice that the website is updated with the change that was made two years ago to allow members to nominate five plastic surgeons for consideration for induction into the American Association of Plastic Surgeons. Your AAPS leadership is diligently working to ensure our Association remains progressive, relevant, and embraces the best members of our specialty in an open and efficient process. In order to continue the recognition of our new members, this year we are planning to hold a luncheon for all new members as well as our Cannon Students on the Sunday of our meeting. Our new members represent the next generation of Association leadership, and our Cannon Students represent the future of our specialty.
The Cannon Students continues to be very successful program, initiated by Dr. David Larson and enthusiastically embraced by the members of the Cannon Society. As might come as no surprise, the Cannon students would like to give back and show their gratitude to the organization for opening their eyes to the strengths and benefits of the Association. Repeatedly, they have indicated the AAPS Annual Meeting was the best meeting they had ever attended, and they want to continue to attend these. Clearly, their hopes and dreams are pinned on becoming future members of our Association. Many asked us what they could do to give back, and we have asked them to use their social media talents – far better than most of us who are old enough to become members of the Association – to publicize the scholarship program and amazing mentorship opportunities offered by attending our meetings. We expect that a greater understanding of the Association and the strength of the program will be publicized by their posts and Tweets and will lead to robust future new members classes.
Both the Chair of the Women Plastic Surgeons Committee, Dr. Liza Wu, and the Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, Dr. Julius Few, have plans throughout the year to enrich the Association members and offer programs that will nurture our members' and future members' EQ and IQ.
We have many exciting plans for the Centennial meeting! In addition to being a tribute to our predecessors and to our organization, it will celebrate the collegiality of our members and the future that lies ahead for the Association, not only the oldest, but most prestigious plastic surgery society that exists. We are excited to incorporate innovative programming, and we are initiating a new plenary session of the "Best of the Best" of the top-rated abstracts submitted for acceptance and presentation. You will hear vignettes of history from our giants of plastic surgery and a panel of social media. Our Icons projects of oral and video history will be present for your viewing pleasure in special spaces in the AAPS Exhibit Hall. We will have a Walk of History showing the development of the AAPS and milestones over the past 10 decades. There will also be a special gift to the members, a 100-year history of the Association written by members and edited by Dr. Arun Gosain. I have been fortunate to see the proofs of this work and can promise you that it will be outstanding. A panel to discuss our history will be included in our program. Dr. Mark Constantian has provided edits of landmark meetings featuring past plastic surgery giants. As usual, we will have the outstanding scientific program that you have come to expect to be the hallmark of our Association, ably constructed by Program Committee Co-Chairs Drs. Warren Garner and Julie Park. Finally, we will include the programming that you have come to expect and enjoy, such as the break-out breakfast sessions and the always riveting Innovations and Libations moderated by Dr. Steven Buchman.
I also want to mention, we will have fun! Our President's Dinner will be a celebration Dinner Dance, White Tie (yes, White Tie!) or Roaring 20's attire preferred. We will end with a casual social event at San Diego Zoo on Tuesday evening.
I hope that each of you will be able to join us celebrate 100 years of the Association's role in development and excellence in Plastic Surgery, scientific and clinical education, collegiality, fellowship and leadership. Save the date: April 9-12, 2022, at the Manchester Grand Hyatt (on the San Diego Marina, near the Gaslamp District), San Diego. Until then, be safe and strong, and the resilient, innovative leaders that you all are.
Linda G. Phillips, MD