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The PSF President's Page: March 2018

This month's update provides a great opportunity to highlight the expanding role of The PSF in community outreach and education. Although The PSF has long supported communities through programs such as Caring for Kids and the Breast Reconstruction Awareness campaign, this is the first year that we are working directly within a community to raise funds for breast reconstruction that will be directed back to that community.

We are initiating this effort in Chicago, which will be our host city for Plastic Surgery The Meeting from Sept. 28 to Oct. 1. Nearly 3,300 women in the greater Chicago area underwent mastectomy last year, yet only 40 percent have had breast reconstruction. Hundreds of these women live below the federal poverty line, and were either unaware of their reconstructive options or could not consider the process either for lack of funds, time away from work or child care, or support while pursuing reconstructive needs.

There are numerous charities devoted to breast cancer research, but their focus typically ends with mastectomy and treatment of the cancer. However, it is reconstruction that makes many patients feel whole again, and The PSF is taking the novel approach of promoting community-based fundraising to improve access to breast reconstruction.

The pilot fundraiser for breast reconstruction will be hosted in Chicago on Wednesday, May 3, with a luncheon that features patients who have benefitted from breast reconstruction and surgeons involved in their procedures. Donations gathered at the event will be directed to outpatient care that often falls outside of current hospital support systems (e.g., day care, time off work and travel for multiple visits during the reconstructive phase) for breast reconstruction patients. Application for funds will be made by patients, charities focused on breast cancer, as well as social workers and counselors who guide patients through their reconstructive journey.

To further contribute to the needs of breast cancer patients in Chicago, ASPS and The PSF will host the inaugural "Close the Loop" 5K run during the annual meeting, with proceeds directed to support breast reconstruction in greater Chicago. We see these events as setting a precedent for community-based fundraisers throughout the nation – further extending the reach of The PSF by reinvesting in the communities in which our members practice.

We now turn our attention to two committees led by rising plastic surgeons that highlight the outreach efforts of The PSF in educating the community: Ashit Patel, MD, chairs the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund Subcommittee, which has made major inroads in increasing awareness and providing charitable care to promote breast reconstruction, and Howard Wang, MD, chairs the Visiting Professors Committee, which represents the largest visiting professorship program of any organization in plastic surgery.

-Arun Gosain, MD

Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund Subcommittee Update

The 2018 grant application cycle is now open, and the committee is eager to review this year's applicants. In 2017, the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund awarded nearly $180,000 to improve awareness of breast reconstruction, charitable care for patients in need of reconstruction, and to support research in breast reconstruction. Close to $110,000 was awarded to 12 organizations to support education for—and improve awareness of—breast reconstruction. These organizations were distributed throughout the United States, and for the first time included an international affiliate in Haiti.

We have seen a tremendous increase in the number of women pursuing breast reconstruction in the United States throughout the past couple of decades – a change that has not been seen in many other nations. Often this is due to a lack of education or cultural differences, which result in the majority of women either not seeking care for their breast cancer or never undergoing reconstruction. Improving awareness and access to breast reconstruction in these countries might prevent women from dying of untreated breast cancer. We hope to continue to be able to support worthy initiatives internationally. Four organizations in California, Connecticut, Florida and Texas were awarded $60,000 to support charitable care for women seeking breast reconstruction surgery and are in financial need. Another $10,000 was awarded to fund a pilot research grant for The PSF focused on breast reconstruction. Through the awards, The PSF is dedicated to improving awareness and access to breast reconstruction for the underserved, and to promote research in breast reconstruction.

Our literature highlights the disparities in breast reconstruction that exist, despite legislation and our Society's efforts. Through the support of our awardees, we seek to break down cultural, racial and other barriers to work toward our goal of ensuring that every woman diagnosed with breast cancer is able to make her own decisions about breast reconstruction. The grant-review process emphasizes the impact of the program on the underserved and the sustainability of the program, so that the grant funding is able to have meaningful results in future years. As we move forward, the Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund Committee hopes to see growth in fundraising that allows for the support of an even greater number of programs – both domestically and internationally.

-Ashit Patel, MD
Chair, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Fund Subcommittee

Visiting Professor Committee Update

The PSF's Visiting Professor Program is an educational endeavor targeting the instruction of residents in plastic surgery programs throughout the country. Each year, nine visiting professors are selected and The PSF helps sponsor their visits to individual programs. The PSF Visiting Professor Program, which dates back to 1979, greatly enhances the education of residents.

The selection process is rigorous, and all selected visiting professors are vetted by a committee of 10 ASPS members after nominations are solicited from program directors around the country. The program allows leaders in plastic surgery to interact with residents throughout the country, exposing them to new techniques and practices. As the field evolves, so too do the topics presented. Each visiting professor spends two days at a sponsoring institution, teaching in a variety of formats such as Grand Rounds, case presentation and cadaver dissections.

The PSF's continued support of this program will help ensure that our future plastic surgeons benefit from the best available education. Such experiences are invaluable as residents are given the opportunity to spend one-on-one time with masters in our field. The PSF will continue to evolve the Visiting Professor Program to meet the changing face of plastic surgery and ensure our future surgeons get every opportunity to be trained at the highest level.

-Howard Wang, MD
Chair, Visiting Professor Committee