AAGL: A Year in Review
Education has always been at the heart of our mission, carried out through many projects and international collaborations that reach all corners of the globe. These initiatives extend far beyond the annual Congress and have grown and evolved considerably over the past few years. As I share some of those exciting developments, I hope to inspire you to get involved. When you contribute your knowledge and expertise to AAGL, it benefits all our members and the patients they serve.
AAGL has truly become a global society. This year our 7000 members represented 93 different countries. Our leadership has evolved to reflect the diversity of our membership with 40% of our 2023 Board of Directors, including the Incoming President and the Immediate Past President hailing from countries other than the US. In addition, we are fulfilling our vision of elevating the global standard for gynecologic care by fostering affiliations with 54 international MIGS societies worldwide, located on every continent, except Antarctica and training new fellows in seven AAGL international FMIGS programs located in Columbia, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico and Canada.
The annual Congress continues to be the premiere event for our members, and this too has evolved. Over the past two Congresses, we democratized participation by opening a call for topics to all members. This has facilitated the involvement of new faculty from all over the world. At this year’s meeting, 45% of our faculty were international, representing 30 different countries, 50% were women, and 20% were recently graduated fellows. We all benefited from both the expertise of senior members and those representing the next generation of MIGS surgeons, along with expert perspectives from around the world.
To address barriers to attending the Global Congress and therefore also address disparities in care in remote areas, our virtual attendance option and Content on Demand allowed the reach of our Congress to expand and impact care in communities whose physicians would otherwise be unable to attend in person. An average of 300 physicians from 33 countries attend our Congress virtually each year.
After hearing the impact of our meeting, I hope that you are inspired to get involved for next year. The Scientific Program Committee will commence planning at the beginning of the year. The best way to share your expertise is to submit a course or session through the Call for Proposals Application, which is open now through January 15, 2024.
One of the initiatives developed in the AAGL Strategic plan is to empower our patients through patient education. To do this, we have developed direct-to-patient educational content. Over the last three years, we have held panels at our annual meeting that provided education for patients over Zoom and were recorded to be used as a resource we can supply to our patients. These sessions include facts about the topic and resources, such as patient advocacy groups, where patients can receive more support. The recordings from last year’s patient education session on Fibroids and this year’s patient education session on Endometriosis are recorded and housed on the AAGL Patient Education website. Work to revamp the AAGL patient centered website is well underway and is scheduled to be released next year.
In addition to the annual Congress, AAGL’s numerous other educational programs have evolved to reach a wide variety of learners in different stages of their educational journeys. Webinars have become an increasingly important tool for taking down obstacles to education by allowing MIGS training to reach a broader demographic of physicians. AAGL hosts approximately 20 webinars annually on a wide range of MIGS topics, many produced by our AAGL Special Interest Groups. An exciting development this year was that all SIG-sponsored webinars provided CME credit for viewers. Over the past year, our webinars have reached an average of 240 unique viewers per webinar from 50 different countries. These webinar recordings are stored as continuing resources on SurgeryU.
Thanks to the valuable content submitted by you, our members, and the peer-review process of the Editorial Board, SurgeryU has become the most utilized component of our online presence. Over the past 7 years, the SurgeryU video library has been viewed by physicians from 193 countries – almost every country recognized by the United Nations. Under the leadership of our new Editor-in-Chief, Jeffrey Woo, SurgeryU was given a fresh look and increased functionality this year. There are currently 1500 videos on SurgeryU, now organized by condition or interest, for ease-of-use. I encourage each of you contribute your expertise by submitting videos of your work to the most comprehensive, peer reviewed MIGS video library in the world!
One of AAGL’s crowning achievements has been the development of the Essentials in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery program, also known as EMIGS. In less than a year, EMIGS has far surpassed the goals that were set for it over the next two years. The program has also expanded internationally and welcomed industry partner support. As more MIGS surgeons undergo training and qualification through EMIGS, its positive impact will grow exponentially. This growth will not only shape the future of our specialty, but also significantly enhance the care provided to our patients for generations. To bolster this expansion, AAGL has introduced monthly EMIGS informational webinars for interested programs and additional AAGL staff. Congratulations to the EMIGS team, with particular thanks to Nash Moawad and Barbara Levy, for your exceptional vision and dedication to this program! EMIGS has already proven to be a great success and we look forward to what the future holds for this program.
Over the last 10 years, JMIG has become the preeminent gynecologic surgery journal, with an impact factor that has risen from 1.5 to 4.1. It is rated in the top quartile of all journals in Ob/Gyn. Last year, JMIG received 1060 submissions from 54 different countries, indicating that the number of submissions and published manuscripts from non-US based researchers has grown to mirror the diversity of our membership. The growing impact of our journal is a testament to the quality submissions made by our members, the exceptional leadership of our former Editor-in-Chief Tommaso Falcone, and the high standards of our editorial board. This year, we welcomed our new Co-Editors-in-Chief, Jason Abbott and Gary Frishman and we are excited for the future of the Journal. I encourage each of you to be a part of that future by submitting your research for peer review and publication in the most recognized gynecologic surgery journal in the world.
Establishing evidence-based clinical practice guidelines is crucial for our community of MIGS surgeons to provide safe and effective care. Led by Dr. Rosanne Kho, the Practice Guidelines Committee has been restructured to adhere to PRISMA guidelines in developing evidence-based recommendations and has developed a new AAGL Guideline titled, Patient Reported Outcome Measures used in Randomized Controlled Trials Following Surgical Intervention for Endometriosis. This guideline is scheduled for publication in the January edition of JMIG. Congratulations to Dr. Kho and the entire committee. Your dedication and hard work in developing these guidelines are greatly appreciated.
Thanks to the relationships we have cultivated with our affiliated societies, AAGL co-hosts international Congresses throughout the year. Over this past year, we have collaborated on four International Congresses including the Indian Association of Gynaecological Endoscopist meeting in Mumbai, the European Society for Gynecological Endoscopy GYNItaly meeting in Rome, the Australasian Gynaecological Endoscopy and Surgery meeting in Bangkok, and the Brazilian Federation Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians meeting in Sao Paulo. We have also participated in an international exchange with AAGL members presenting at the Asia-Pacific Association for Gynecologic Endoscopy meeting in Singapore and by featuring EMIGS at the FEBRASGO Congress in Rio de Janeiro. Our co-hosted international congresses and exchanges are one of the most tangible ways that the AAGL fulfills its mission to make minimally invasive gynecologic surgery available for all women. These collaborations not only benefit AAGL, the affiliate society, and international physicians but most importantly, they elevate the level of care around the world.
In addition to collaboration on International Congresses, AAGL has assisted in the development of Centers for Surgical Educational Excellence in MIGS. Two years ago, we collaborated with IAGE in the development of nine Centers of Excellence across India. These centers provide intensive four-day workshops on a specific topic in MIGS and follow similar curricula and guidelines as formulated through the IAGE and AAGL. They include didactic lectures, hands-on trainers, and live surgical participation. Upon completion of a course, a certificate signed by the AAGL and IAGE is issued acknowledging completion and the number of hours of the dedicated course. The response to these Centers of Surgical Excellence has been phenomenal and plans are underway to duplicate them in Bangladesh and the Philippines. I would like to extend a special thank you to Shailesh Puntambekar for his vision and leadership in developing these relationships.
Our progress in MIGS and women’s healthcare relies on your collaboration and shared knowledge. Your voice and experience are crucial. Contribute by submitting topics for webinars, joining SIGS, or submitting ideas for the annual Congress. Submit research to JMIG, create content for SurgeryU, or consider running for AAGL leadership positions. Your involvement matters. Engaging with AAGL not only benefits the association, but also leads to personal and professional growth and lifelong friendships.
I have learned much from so many of you and I am grateful to have served this year as your President. I have been amazed at the forward-thinking leadership of those with whom I have worked and at the willingness of our members to volunteer their time and effort for the betterment of AAGL, its educational programs, and the field of MIGS. Thank you to all of you who have entrusted me to lead this incredible organization over the past year. I look forward to all the amazing things to come for the AAGL.