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2020 AASA Annual Conference
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10/8/2020 to 10/14/2020
When: Thursday, October 8 - Wednesday, October 14, 2020
Where: Zoom Conference (virtual)
United States
Contact: Karen Murphy

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33rd Annual Conference

AASA has transitioned to a virtual platform for this meeting. Conference sessions will be held on October 8, October 9, October 13 and October 14. Please refer to the schedule below for specific session times. 

General Info

We may not be be all together in Chicago, but this year's conference will be mind-blowing!  This year's conference will still have the same great content and the same incredible participation and engagement with all of your peers as it as in years past.

2020 Conference Schedule

Thursday, October 8th

2:00 - 4:00 PM EDT - Pre-Conference Workshop: Simple Rules to Manage Complex, Dynamic Situations

Presented by Chris Bingham, PhD, MBA/MA
This module provides a practical framework based on award-winning academic models of simple rules. Strategies based on simple rules often outperform more complicated strategy models. This module focuses on helping leaders and leadership teams analyze their own performance and distill simple rules that they can then test, evolve, and communicate to team members at all levels of the organization for improved business results.

4:15 - 4:45 PM EDT - AASA Annual Business Meeting 

5:00 - 6:00 PM EDT  - Joint Session with the Society of Surgical Chairs: How to Prepare for the Next Crisis

Presented b
y Robert S.D. Higgins, MD, MSHA, FACS, SSC President 2020 and Lonn D. McDowell, MHA, FACHE, FACMPE, AASA President 2020
Panel discussion on lessons learned from the past and present.

Friday, October 9th

3:00 - 3:45 PM EDT - 
The Value of Endocrine Surgeons Bring to Your Institution
Presented by James Lee, MD, Jennifer Kuo, MD, and Christal Moore, MHA, MBA, FACHE
 The speakers will discuss the benefits of having a well-rounded endocrine surgery program in an academic medical center setting. The presentation will show examples of how endocrine surgeons provide clinical expertise, academic productivity, and financial opportunities for a department of surgery.

4:00 - 5:00 PM EDT - The Use of Telemedicine in Surgical Practices: How Covid-19 is Redefining Care Delivery
Presented by Erin Pica and Mohsen Shabahang, MD
Adoption of telemedicine has quickly developed into viable option during the Covid-19 pandemic for patients seeking personalized and convenient care. It is important to understand where telemedicine is heading as it applies to surgical practices. We will present the results of a qualitative research study based on input from physicians, APs, and operational leaders that will address strategies to advance the patient experience, expand market share by expanding outreach capacity, increase provider efficiency, and increase access. It will also discuss integrating the rest of the care team (learners, nurses) into the process.

5:30 - 8:00 PM EDT - 
Celia King Virtual Happy Hour & Networking
Description: Grab your favorite beverage and join us for some "spirited" networking sessions, some fun ice breakers and a special toast to Celia King.

Tuesday, October 13

12:00 - 1:00 PM EDT - 
The Serwell Lecture: Why Surgery and Academic Surgery Administrators Need Millennials!
Presented by Gilbert Upchurch, Jr, MD
Description: In the early 1980s, Richard Serwell was instrumental in gathering a founding core of charter members called the Association of Academic Surgical Administrators (AASA) and was unanimously elected as the organization’s first president in 1984. Richard may be considered the first to articulate the vision of the AASA based on integrity, friendship, and community. All too soon, Richard’s life ended in March 1998. Richard remembered the AASA in his will by giving the organization a bequest. This bequest was supplemented with AASA funds to create an endowed fund. The endowment income is used for the Richard Serwell Lecture and supporting some of the Education Program expenses. Because of Richard’s dedication and vision, the AASA Executive Committee established the Richard Serwell Lectureship in June 1990, and the first lecture was delivered in 1991 at the Education Conference in Orlando, Florida. This lectureship is awarded annually to a speaker of considerable stature who would address the issues of importance, substance, and broad interest to the membership.

1:15 - 2:15 PM EDT - Where Do We Go From Here? How One Department of Surgery Supports Advocacy and Allyship During A national Racial Reckoning
Presented by Brian Shimamoto
In the six years since the death of Michael Brown and the civil unrest in Ferguson that led to the establishment of Black Lives Matter (BLM), the number of police killings has stayed the same, hovering around 1,100 deaths each year (1). What makes the death of George Floyd different? As the nation grappled with a global pandemic the likes of which had not been seen in a hundred years, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Officer Derek Chauvin set off unprecedented protests across the nation(2) causing people from all walks of life and all racial backgrounds to ask, "What can I do? Where do we go from here?" The Department of Surgery at CU Anschutz Medical Campus established a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee in the fall of 2019 to take a look at our efforts to advance diversity, ensure equity and promote inclusion at all levels of the department. In response to the national attention garnered by the death George Floyd and others, a racial reckoning is taking place. In her book Rising Strong, Dr. Bren Brown refers to "the reckoning" as a vital step in picking yourself up when you fail. Referring to a form of nautical navigation known as dead reckoning, this process requires us to know where we've been and what we've been through in order to plot a course to where we want to be. We must develop the intercultural skills to challenge racist acts and begin to dismantle systemic racism. This is why it is important for white people to understand the role of white privilege and white supremacy in defining the white racial experience as much as it is vital to understand systemic racism and the black racial experience in the U.S. This session will share how our department is supporting our employees in gaining the awareness, knowledge and skills to be effective advocates for social change and allies to their patients and peers.

2:30 - 3:15 PM EDT - Key Conceptual and Logistical Factors for Successfully Implementing Mindfulness-Based Burnout Interventions in Surgery
Presented by Rachelle Bresnahan, Carter Lebares, MD, and Linda Reilly, MD
Burnout and distress are widespread issues in surgical training. While effective interventions are emerging, practical implementation remains a mystery and hurdle for many residency programs. Enhanced Stress Resilience Training (ESRT), a mindfulness-based cognitive intervention for addressing burnout in surgical trainees, has been delivered at our institution since 2016. We have iteratively evaluated and adapted the intervention and our implementation approach to maximize feasibility and acceptability through surveys, focus groups and interviews involving leadership, administrators and participants. Thematic analysis was used in each instance, and across instances, to explore concepts and themes, which were used to identify critical influences effecting implementation.

Wednesday, October 14

12:00 - 12:30 PM EDT - Strategy Is Important but Execution is Everything 
Presented by Ryan Roberts
In their book The Balanced Scorecard, authors David Norton and Robert Kaplan note that 90% of organizations fail to execute their strategies successfully. Pair that failure rate with a hefty price tag for strategic planning activities and high implementation costs, and you could be facing long-term viability problems. In this presentation, we will review a basic framework for strategic planning and discuss the importance of aligning your organization’s workforce strategy (Human Capital Management) with its business strategy. We will also discuss how adapting elements of a “Learning Culture” is vital for the long-term success of any organization.

12:45 - 1:30 PM EDT - Cultivating the Next Generation of Physicians: The Northwestern Pre-Med Internship Experience
Presented by Micah Eimer, MD and Lindsay Lucas-Kamm
Now in its 4th year, the Northwestern Pre-Med Internship has been faced with its most challenging circumstances yet. Recognizing our commitment to education and the value of direct in-person experience, NM made the decision to prioritize the internship program much like other clinical training programs across the academic medical center. The core objectives of the program are to build a pipeline of future physicians who represent the growing diversity of our community and to offer resources to foster their interest in a career in medicine. As students transition from the supportive environments in which they have thrived throughout the high school years to universities, there is an opportunity to engage them in the field while promoting Northwestern Medicine as an excellent place to work. With these goals in mind, we have developed and refined a structure which incorporates both observation and project work into their internship experience. By involving them in clinical work alongside faculty and coordinating clinical rotations, they get a behind-the-scenes look into life as a physician beyond the research bench and across a multitude of specialties.

2:00 - 2:45 PM EDT - Education Administration: An Evolution to Centralization 
Presented by Susan Marx, MBA, PMP, CPC, Karen Horvarth, MD, FACS, and Kira Martin, MHA/MBA
In 2017, the UW Department of Surgery (UW DoS) experienced dual environmental pressures of financial challenges and the first ratification of a collective bargaining agreement with UW Housestaff Assocation (UWHA) which added new policies, procedures and expense to GME residency and fellowship programs. The UW DoS explored and embarked on a reorganization of its decentralized division administrative and education infrastructure. This session will discuss the vision, execution and lessons learned thus far of a centralized education infrastructure, including planning and engagement with the Chair, Program Directors, and Program Administrators.

3:00 - 3:30 PM EDT - Conference Recap & Passing of the Gavel


Registration and Sponsorship

Attendee Registration
$150 Members | $250 Non-Members

Corporate Sponsor Registration*
*Platinum Corporate Sponsorship includes two (2) attendees. Gold Corporate Sponsorship Includes one (1) attendee. Sponsors must be in good standing with the association to qualify for registration.
Additional attendees are $150.  

Annual Conference Sponsorship Registration
Annual Conference Sponsorships include one (1) attendee. 
Please note only Platinum and Gold Sponsors are eligible to purchase Annual Conference Supplemental Sponsorships.  Please contact the AASA office if you wish to sponsor a conference attendee.

Pre-conference Workshop

Simple Rules to Manage Complex, Dynamic Situations

This year’s Pre-Conference Workshop: Simple Rules to Manage Complex, Dynamic Situations is free to current AASA members. Non-Members may opt to attend for a nominal fee of $50. 

This workshop provides a practical framework based on award-winning academic models of simple rules. Strategy based on simple rules often outperform more complicated strategy models.  This module focuses on helping leaders and leadership teams analyze their own performance and distill simple rules that they can then test, evolve, and communicate to team members at all levels of the organization for improved business results.


  • Understand the relevance and applicability of simple rules

Dr. Chris Bingham, Kenan-Flagler Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship and Phillip Hettleman Distinguished Scholar, will present the work he has done on using simple rules to manage complex, dynamic situations.  Dr. Bingham is an award winning teacher and gifted scholar.  This promises to be an exceptional leadership learning opportunity.  Click here to learn more about Dr. Bingham.

Important Info & Policies


Refunds and Cancellations: Refunds are subject to a $50 processing fee. Sorry, no refunds after October 1, 2020. 

Consent to Use of Photographic Images: Registration and attendance at, or participation in, AASA meetings and other activities constitutes an agreement by the registrant to the use and distribution (both now and in the future) of the registrant or attendee’s image or voice in photographs, videotapes, electronic reproductions, and audiotapes of such events and activities by AASA and other third parties, including but not limited the venue, the host city, and the host CVB.

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