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New society seeks to fill void in academic ob.gyn.

For many general ob.gyns. pursuing a career in academics, there's a lot they need to learn on their own.

Subspecialists in other areas like maternal-fetal medicine or gynecologic oncology undergo fellowship training that provides them with the know-how they need to succeed both in research and when climbing the academic ladder. They also have longstanding subspecialty societies to support them after training and advance the subspecialty Academic specialists in general ob.gyn., however, have always been expected to hit the ground running straight out of residency and have never had a specialty organization to call their own.

Now a newly minted organization is seeking to make that transition easier by providing resources on research methods, academic leadership, and networking opportunities.

The Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology (SASGOG) held its first meeting last May in New Orleans. The half-day inaugural meeting, which featured presentations on health care reform, research, and academic administration, drew about 200 attendees from academic institutions across the country.

"It was a tremendous response," said Dr. David P Chelmow, the new president of SASGOG.

Dr. Chelmow, who is professor and chair of the Virginia Commonwealth University department of obstetrics and gynecology, Richmond, said that the new group plans to give academic specialists in general ob.gyn. tools on how to get promoted from assistant professor to associate professor, tips on how to mentor and be mentored, and some basics on research design and how to pursue funding. It also aims to provide a forum for career academic generalists and division chiefs.

There's been a need for a group like SASGOG for at least as long as his 20-year career in medicine, Dr. Chelmow said in an interview.

So why did it take so long? "I don't have a good answer to that," he said. "When we started reaching out to people, our fear was that all we would hear was You're kidding, another society?' Actually, the response was Yes, this is a great idea.'"

"I wish we had done it a lot sooner," Dr. Chelmow added. "We probably would have had the same energy behind us if we had."

The work to launch SASGOG began several years ago with conversations between Dr. W. Chuck Hitt of the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, and Dr. L. Chesney Thompson of the University of Colorado, Aurora. As the idea for the group began to take shape, they organized special interest groups and informal gatherings at meetings of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and other forums for academic ob.gyns.

From there, a core group of organizers, including Dr. Hitt, Dr. Thompson, and Dr. Chelmow, as well as Dr. Tony Ogburn from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, and Dr. Lee Learman from Indiana University, Indianapolis, met weekly by phone for months to prepare for an organizational meeting. At that meeting, held in October 2012, they selected officers and board members and set out a plan to get the group off the ground, like getting 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

"Things kind of snowballed from there," Dr. Chelmow said.

In addition to the success of the first meeting, SAS-GOG has also attracted 90 academic departments to support the organization as "founding departments"--each contributing $1,000 and sending members to the inaugural meeting. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) Educational Foundation also awarded SASGOG a grant to support educational activities during the first 2 years.

"Both ACOG and ABOG have been unbelievably supportive to us," Dr. Chelmow said.

It's still a good time to get in on the ground floor of SASGOG. A lot of the focus over the next year will be on the organization itself, he said, forming essential committees for membership and communication. They need to build the infrastructure to get the word out, bring in new members, and have resources and activities for them once they are on board. For starters, SASGOG's annual meeting is expanding. The 2014 meeting, which will be held in Chicago in conjunction with the ACOG annual meeting, will feature a full day of educational sessions and a healthy dose of networking, Dr. Chelmow said. They also are developing some webinars that will be offered before then, along with a listserv and an online forum.

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Title Annotation:Practice Trends; Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology
Author:Schneider, Mary Ellen
Publication:OB GYN News
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2013
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