We Came Together in 2021!
We have all heard the quote that says, “There is no I in the word TEAM.” Together we are one. Another memorable quote quips, “there is only one letter separating can from can’t—and learning bridges that gap.” As an AAGL organization we walk in unison on issues that matter. As importantly, we have a can-do attitude.
As we reflect upon our jeweled and prized 50-year history as an AAGL family and organization and look towards the future, we see that the concept of togetherness is espoused in our mission and vision statements:
As the global leader in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, our mission is to elevate the quality and safety of heath care for women through excellence in clinical practice, education, research, innovation, and advocacy.
Our vision is to elevate the global standard for gynecologic care and to ensure that all women have access to minimally invasive surgical options.
Together, our Board of Directors unanimously adopted this mission and vision statement. It was a painstaking and methodical process, where individuals collaborated through teamwork to create a signature and timeless statement. Together they created these important ideals that guide us.
Let’s be honest, since our inception, we have needed to be agile, nimble and pivot with the times. Internally, we debated the various roles of minimally invasive surgery. It is hard to believe that at one time we had pro and con riveting debates about robotic surgery versus laparoscopy. Is vaginal surgery minimally invasive and do we still need to teach it? Should it be in our educational programs? Hysteroscopy, intrauterine surgery—is there a role for it and is it relevant? Do we need collaboration with interventional radiology or embrace medical therapeutic options for uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or abnormal uterine bleeding?
As an organization we have outgrown the infamous adage, “if the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.” We are no longer approaching problems in ways that are no longer valid, useful, or might even be destructive. We don’t use old coping mechanisms, rather we work as teams that are focused on being solution oriented and inclusive. As avant-garde thought leaders we now believe that there must be synergy in technology, medical therapeutics, and even “watchful waiting” options as we care for our patient. Together we are one on these ideas.
I have tried to find moments of gratitude during the COVID-19 pandemic. Certainly, there have been many losses personally and professionally. However, there have been opportunities that never would have occurred at lightning speed without the pandemic. COVID-19 has forced each of us to look microscopically at how we live, work, and play.
The founding of the AAGL in 1971, and the COVID-19 pandemic, were both riveting and have many similarities. They required abrupt changes in attitude, processes, and threatened the status-quo. We created our new reality. Our professional lives and practice morphed overnight. Hybrid workspaces. Working from home. Zoom meetings soon replaced interviews for medical school, residency, fellowship, and hiring for new faculty positions. Webinars replaced in person meetings. Learning to be agile was also notable in the sky-rocketing numbers of virtual visits, embracing minimally invasive procedures and post op early recovery algorithms, as well as improved post op teaching protocols to keep patients from relapsing to overcrowded emergency rooms. Some of us embraced home cooked meals!
Similarly, our founders in 1971 realized that change was essential to the field of gynecologic surgery: miniature incisions, understanding electrical energy, and removing almost any pelvic pathology through band aid size incisions. When the debate about morcellation arose—it was studied and discussed at length. Working with industry then propelled us forward with innovative technology so that we could continue with minimally invasive surgical procedures.
Both eras required us to embrace monumental and revolutionary changes. We created our own new reality and found that these changes work. Now we must continue to be nimble in all we do. We can’t go back to outdated policies and procedures, complacency, and less risk adverse behaviors. To quote the legendary basketball coach, the late John Wooden, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
As I look forward to our continued future together as one, let’s keep up this metamorphosis, continue to cultivate innovation, utilize an agile learning style, use failure as a fulcrum to learn from mistakes, and strive to be inspirational leaders in all we do.