From the Editor
by Dana L. Alden, PhD, Editor-in-chief, The University of Hawaii
Welcome to the Summer 2015 issue of the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) Newsletter! In this issue, Society President, Ahmed Bayoumi, gets the ball rolling by offering insights into what distinguishes our Society from other academic and research associations. As Ahmedâ€™s letter demonstrates, SMDMâ€™s organizational culture is truly and positively unique on multiple fronts.
We also take time to remember two SMDM members (Josh Hemmerich and Seema Sonnad) whose untimely passing this spring was a great loss to their families, friends and colleagues as well as our Society. While we are saddened by their passing, we celebrate their many contributions and their amazing passion for life. If you havenâ€™t already, please take a moment to read their tributes below.
The 2015 SMDM Annual Meeting is going to be outstanding. As Co-Chairs James Stahl and Scott LaJoie note in their preview, the implementation conference theme focuses on one of the most challenging aspects of our profession â€“ taking our research findings to the clinical setting in a positive and sustainable manner. Have a look at the exciting program including Keynote speaker, symposia, and plenary sessions which are already in place.
And, in line with the Societyâ€™s internationalization initiative, the 2nd Biennial Asia-Pacific Conference, to be held in Hong Kong in January 2016, is moving forward. Co-chairs Kat Tsang and Huso Yi and SMDM Trustees David Matchar and Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert are organizing, in cooperation with the Chinese University of Hong Kong, an exciting program with a highly relevant emphasis on the challenges of policy and clinical decision making regarding ageing and end-of-life care in Asia-Pacific. You can find out more about the Conference in this issue.
Finally, although still a year away, a preview of the 16th Biennial European Meeting (London) with its focus on improving diagnosis is offered along with a â€œsave the dateâ€ notice.
Shifting gears, a report from the SMDM-Society for Behavioral Medicine (SBM) Crosstalk Committee follows. Comprised of members from both Societies, the Crosstalk Committee has been very active. At the April 2015 annual SBM meeting in San Antonio, a panel of representatives from four key stakeholder groups addressed the very difficult question, â€œWhat is a â€˜goodâ€™ medical decision?â€ In the spirit of â€œcrosstalk,â€ a similar symposium is scheduled for SMDMâ€™s annual meeting in St. Louis. Please read about this important initiative in your Newsletter.
Voting for 2016 SMDM Officers and Trustees opens in late-July. The slate of candidates can be found in this issue. Sincere thanks to all who were involved in the nominating and election process. Special thanks to the nominees who agreed to stand for election and took the time to express the goals and objectives of their candidacy. Committee and Interest Group updates are also available in the Newsletter, including: helpful information on Career Development Opportunities at the 2015 Annual Meeting; goals and collaborative activities of the Pediatric Interest Group; and tips on successful grant applications from your Networking Committee.
In the Society Member News section, youâ€™ll find the latest on the educational and career achievements of your fellow SMDM members and colleagues. Please also note the inclusion of a new Newsletter section that invites you to describe current projects that are either in the formative stage or underway. The idea is to enable all of us to learn more about the ongoing activities of our Society and to potentially connect members with like interests on a regular basis â€“ after all, there are only so many coffee breaks at our annual and regional meetings! Please consider submitting news about projects in the idea stage as well as those that are ongoing to this section and if you are looking for collaborators or advice in a specialized area, donâ€™t hesitate to include that information in your submission.
Last, if you would like to write a piece for the Newsletter, or are interested in joining our Editorial Team, please donâ€™t hesitate to contact me. In particular, Iâ€™m hoping one of you will volunteer to serve as Deputy Editor. This is a great way to give back to our Society while developing lifelong relationships with our members. With our fantastic SMDM staff, the workload isnâ€™t onerous. Itâ€™s actually fun and offers an enjoyable break from the daily grind. I hope to hear from you soon.
Iâ€™m looking forward to seeing you all in St. Louis!
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From the President
by Ahmed Bayoumi, MD, MSc, University of Toronto
I see some recurring themes when reading the statements from the candidates for various SMDM board positions. People repeatedly refer to SMDM as their primary academic society. Many note that they have attended almost every meeting or that they havenâ€™t missed a North American meeting in decades. Very often, candidates write that SMDM is their intellectual home.
Those are not sentiments that one might expect sharp-minded decision scientists to use, but they speak to something about SMDM that is, I think, exceptional. SMDMâ€™s founders were prescient in labeling our group as a society rather than an association or organization. We clearly do associate with each other and we strive to be organized! But we are a society unlike other academic groups that I know in terms of the camaraderie, friendship, caring, and support that SMDM members give each other. I can count many people whom I consider close friends whom I have only met through SMDM; people with whom I have shared meals, joys, sorrows, and confidences. I know that my experience is not unique.
These sentiments have resonated particularly strongly with me recently after hearing about the deaths of two members of our extended SMDM family, Josh Hemmerich and Seema Sonnad. A tribute to each has been published in this newsletter and on our website. But whatâ€™s not captured in these tributes is how we, as a society, responded â€“ the large number of emails expressing concern for their families and asking what we can do as a society, the spontaneous offers to help with writing and contacting others, the strong desire to make sure that everyone who would want to know was notified, and the need to share the grief and the very personal sense of loss at the passing of a friend. We are discussing now what we can do to honor Josh and Seema further at the annual meeting.
As part of our strategic planning exercise earlier this year, we asked people to tell us what they perceived that SMDM does well and where we could do better. The new strategic plan will be launched shortly and will focus on a few areas where there is real potential for us to grow as a society. However, it would be unfortunate if we didnâ€™t take a minute to reflect on what we are already doing well and should continue to emphasize as core activities. Here are three questions that we asked and the most common responses:
What are the top 3 categories that we currently are doing very well and that bring value to the field, to our members, or to the society?
- Scientific advancement, listed as one of the top 3 by 86% of respondents
- Education (65%)
- Networking (57%)
- Helping other SMDM members in their careers through promotion, publication, grants, support, etc. (35%)
What are the top 3 categories that differentiate SMDM from other organizations?
- Scientific advancement (84%)
- Education (63%)
- Helping other SMDM members in their careers through promotion, publication, grants, support, etc. (34%)
What are the top 3 categories that you feel most passionately about?
- Scientific advancement (77%)
- Education (53%)
- Helping other SMDM members in their careers through promotion, publication, grants, support, etc. (45%)
Despite the non-scientific nature of the survey, I think these are still striking findings. After science and education, what we are passionate about as a society and what we think is special about SMDM, is the creation of a space where our members can network with each other and where they can support each other in their careers. Thatâ€™s worth recognizing and celebrating and continuing to nurture. Many have commented that we are an awkward size for generating a lot of revenue or growing rapidly, which I think is true. But we are a perfectly sized society for getting to know and support each other and for welcoming new people. Both Seema and Josh devoted countless hours to exactly those sorts of activities through their service to SMDM and we remember them for that alongside all of their other achievements.
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