AAST INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS COMMMITTEE
Michel Aboutanos MD, MPH
In the past year the International Relations Committee worked diligently to fulfill one of its main mission: to serve as the gateway for international activities and outreach and be an outlet for the various international programs and initiatives of the AAST. For this end, IRC sought and got approval from the Board of Managers for the creation of a network of international societies with a platform for bidirectional sharing of information. Little did we realize the power and the impact of such network with 16 affiliated societies contributing some of the best minds in the world and serving some of the top academic centers in their respective countries. Unfortunately, it took a global crisis and a pandemic for us to realize the importance of the infrastructure that we have built and the relationship that we have fostered.
COVID19- Global Response: as the world realized that we are dealing with a deadly pandemic, there was a large need for information based on personal experiences of trials and errors in dealing with the coronavirus, all the way from PPE , triage , team structures and management, ICU and OR management, recovery and sustainability. Most importantly there was a need for solidarity and support. Through its structure and network and its affiliated societies, the IRC was able to bring the input from more than 19 countries on a daily basis as well as help one of our affiliated society, the Panamerican Trauma Society (PTS), host a global seminar on experiences and solutions that is now ongoing on a weekly basis. This is now also occurring in collaboration with the World Coalition for Trauma Care (WCTC).
Academic Warehouse: Another significant work by the IRC website workgroup, under the leadership of Vice Chair Dr. Rochelle Dicker and Brea Sanders, is the development of a functional academic warehouse, with meaningful access for AAST members, to provide information on international work opportunities, exchange programs, participation in international rotations and fellowships, as well as courses and training. To this end the workgroup developed a survey on international opportunities in research, education, policy/advocacy and clinical rotations. The survey will be distributed to AAST members, US based Trauma and ACS societies as well AAST IRC affiliated societies.
International Academic Mentorship and Scholarship: One of the highlight of the IRC efforts has been the development and approval for international mentorship program for research and scholarly activities. Under the leadership of Dr. Marc DeMoya, guidelines have been developed for selection of mentors and mentees with an associated scholarship to allow the mentee to travel and participate in the AAST congress and present the scholarly work. This year one mentee scholarship will be granted.
Some of our other ongoing initiatives is the ACS- AAST international visiting scholar which was a great success and will be offered again this year along with the other AAST IRC - annual meeting scholarship. New this year, apart from the best international paper competition will be the best international poster competition, allowing opportunity for recognition of great scholarly work by our international members and guests and the opportunity for scholarly mentorship. This year we will continue to host the International Breakfast session at the congress, which has grown to include global speakers with leadership of the various affiliated societies serving on an interactive panel.
Under Dr. Hsee’s leadership, we embarked on a special media relations agenda of highlighting various affiliated international society activities. This bidirectional sharing of information should be a great platform for promoting ideas and international collaborative work. Additionally this year the IRC will cohost the Australasian Paper Competition Session at the AAST clinical congress in September in Waikoloa, Hawaii.
Finally and most importantly, I would like to thank all the hard working members of IRC and all our affiliated society representatives, the board of managers, and Ms. Brea Sanders and Sharon Gautschy for their invaluable support. On behalf of all our committee, thank you for the opportunity to present some of our work!