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What Hath SVS Wrought?

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The first in-person Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) meeting since June 2019 was — understandably — tainted and heavily defined by the COVID-19 pandemic and the national and global social disruptions. While the keynote speeches did not challenge contemporary controversies nor claimed a bold and risky prophesying of the future, they appropriately followed the current institutional, social, and global trends. Nonetheless, it seemed an unconscious yet genuine attempt for collective soul searching. The ability to navigate in an ocean of unknowns while still keeping your head up, I consider that a reasonable achievement. This is a particularly daunting task for surgeons who are, by default, trained to be assertive and therefore inherently less adaptive to unrivaled changes. Despite the masses’ agreement or thoughts on the SVS and its leadership, the history, written in the future, is what generations of vascular surgeons to come will reminisce as the truth.

Dr. Ronald Dalman scrutinized the SVS’ history for its record on gender and racial diversity during his presidential address. He wondered about who and what will define our time when we look forward to another 75 years into the future! What would we do about it, or to be more specific, what would the SVS do about it? Dr. Dalman refurbished a famous quote from the book of Numbers 23:23, "What hath God wrought," into "What hath the SVS wrought." An interesting line to recite. It echoed the official first Morse code message transmitted in the United States on May 24, 1844, to officially open the Baltimore–Washington telegraph line. Or was Dr. Dalman echoing a Pulitzer Prize-winning book written in 2007 by historian Daniel Walker Howe? The book describes our perception of the entanglement of the religious, political, social, and intellectual powers in the history of the United States, at the time when a new generation of leadership of the nation was succeeding the Founding Fathers of the United States. Howe’s book title was, “What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815–1848.” Was Dr. Dalman implying an analogy by which the SVS with its authority is handing over its power and leadership of vascular surgery as a society and as a practice to a new generation of leaders with the hope that a more diverse society will emerge?

While the message might seem simple, however, its implications are profound. You can try to understand life and therefore be lost in endless philosophies and/or doctrines about its nature and what it means, or you can simply live life. Similarly, the subtle message herein; change is coming. Let us embrace it rather than struggling within our minds trying to understand it, argue for it or against it, or defy it. The message was, “the beginning is near,” rather than the other view of the world; “the end is near.” Which view is the accurate one? Is it about time for the butterfly to burst from its cocoon, and is the apparent struggle to break out what develops the butterfly so it can fly? Or is this merely an elaborated gymnastic stretch of a linear life process? Or can both views be correct? What would my vascular surgery fellows, brothers, and sisters, think?

Dr. Farres is employed by the Mayo Clinic. He has no conflicts of interest to report.

Image: GoodStudio / shutterstock

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