Editor’s note: The following article is an abbreviated version of the speech Edward Dohring, MD, FAAOS, the 2022 president of the North American Spine Society (NASS), delivered at the NASS 2021 Annual Meeting on Sept. 30, 2021, in Boston.
The words “unprecedented times” have become a bit of a cliché, but the past two years are unprecedented times. NASS has had to pivot and shift, demonstrating flexibility and creativity to carry out its mission. Even if COVID-19 goes away, the changes wrought by COVID-19 will stay with us, probably forever.
As president of NASS, I have a few goals for the organization and its members. First, I want to continue the investments NASS is making in improving its online and video resources. Growing our digital offerings is something we were working on before the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated with the obvious increased need for remote learning. At the same time, I want to see us improve our live offerings, with more focus on hands-on learning and interactive workshops and debates.
For many years, I have been involved with residency and fellow education, sitting on AAOS, American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and NASS committees, and I’d like to see us help provide alternative pathways to encourage more widespread certification of both interventional and surgical spine fellowships.
In thinking about education, improving our collaboration with our industry colleagues, who help advance spine care teaching and research, is very important to me.
Together with industry and other U.S. and international spine societies, NASS needs to continue its advocacy efforts towards improving patient care. One aspect of this goal is advocating for fewer administrative burdens and for proper reimbursement for the complex care we provide. NASS has great respect for and great relationships with government agencies and insurance carriers, and, among other immediate goals, we will continue to advocate for streamlining the prior authorization process, creating an appropriate Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ inpatient-only list, promoting telehealth as an option for spine care, and preventing decreases in reimbursement for spine care.
Finally, I would like to see NASS create new opportunities for members of all backgrounds to participate on NASS committees and in NASS leadership positions. NASS has engaged a diversity consultant to help us understand how we can encourage diversity in the field of spine care as well as within our organization’s ranks. Being a part of NASS brings one into contact with an interesting and stimulating group of people. Participation has been a very rewarding part of my life and I encourage all of you to join a committee and try us out. You’ll be happy you did.
Edward Dohring, MD, FAAOS, is the founder of the Spine Institute of Arizona and director of the Spine Institute’s Spine Surgery Fellowship Program. He serves as the 2022 president of the North American Spine Society.