November 2021 President's Letter

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope that everyone is doing well and can relax, refresh, and enjoy time with family and friends.  Given that many of us are busier than ever before – between staffing and COVID-related challenges – it has never been more important than now to take full advantage of the countless resources this organization offers to support one another through these difficult times. These resources and connections are what make NERVES such an exceptional society; we can all be thankful for the connectedness that NERVES has provided us.

It is a true privilege to be the President of NERVES.  The past 20 years of NERVES leadership deserves many thanks for the organization’s continued success.  I plan to maintain this momentum with a strong commitment to our mission – to connect neurosurgery executives to resources, education, and data to enhance value for the business of neurosurgery.  The focus of our mission is on “connection.”  Even though the pandemic has kept us from meeting in person, NERVES has adapted and stayed committed to maintaining connections amongst its membership.  Notably, our Education Committee has continued to provide valuable and informative monthly webinars.  On behalf of the Society, I would like to take this opportunity to thank our Education Committee for their engagement, and former Committee Chair, Kathy Tobin, for her exceptional leadership in making a variety of resources and learning opportunities available to members.

Although we have had to cancel Annual Meetings in Boston (Spring 2020), and Vancouver (Spring 2021) / Orlando (Summer 2021), our Annual Meeting Committee is now hard at work planning for our Spring 2022 meeting in Philadelphia.  Fortunately, the meeting cancellations did not significantly impact NERVES’ financial position due to successful negotiations with vendors for return of deposits and expenses.  Additionally, NERVES has built up a strong cash reserve over many years in preparation for unexpected circumstances.  For those who are not aware, Curi and Hub International are both NERVES Platinum Level Sponsors of our Annual Meeting.  Through their sponsorship and connection, we have teamed up to provide meeting attendees with extraordinary speakers and presentations.  Considering our meeting cancellations since early 2020, we are grateful they have continued to work collaboratively with us on providing presenters and have provided the same high level of contact and interaction virtually - during our online mini-conferences and various webinars.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the wonderful partnership we have with David Sousa, Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel with Curi.  David has worked closely with NERVES leadership in helping us to identify and develop the program for our Annual Meetings.  He is a trusted advisor and is dedicated to our organization. We cannot thank him enough.

Please remember to submit your NERVES Socio-Economic Surveys by November 24th.  We have had a record year for survey sales for the 2020 survey results, which indicates that more and more practices are finding our information relevant and valuable. By keeping our response rates from neurosurgeons and other data points high, the data will continue to remain statistically relevant. Led by Derek Cantrell, the Survey Committee asks that you please take the time to complete the survey so that our data remains a relevant resource to individual neurosurgeons, organized neurosurgery, practices, and the consulting community.  On behalf of the Society, I would like to express our gratitude to Derek and the committee members for their dedicated efforts year after year.  Last year, 71 practices contributed their practice data to the NERVES Survey, representing 645 Neurosurgeons, 317 Nurse Practitioners, 265 Physician Assistants, and 357 other providers! In 2021, we would like to encourage our entire NERVES membership to complete the survey.  Reminder: there are extra survey questions this year regarding COVID and these questions will likely appear again in the next survey. Lastly, a special thanks goes out to Katz, Sapp, & Miller (KSM Healthcare) for their assistance in putting this survey together each year.

We hosted a very productive summer board meeting in July where we hit a “sweet-spot” in the pandemic and were able to meet in person. Typically, our board meets in person twice each year – once at the Annual Meeting and once during the summer. Our summer meeting requires a lot of work and this year, we spent many hours strategizing on goals and objectives as well as our current and future strategies. We also discussed the reorganization of our committee structures, and redefining committee responsibilities, as well as tightening up our bylaws.  The rollout of the new committee structures and the publication of our updated bylaws will be communicated in the next couple of months.  It is important that I recognize and thank our current Past-President John Lewis, President-Elect Donna Bailer and NERVES Administrator Melissa Klingberg for their partnership in taking on this tedious and detailed work. Donna’s efforts with the bylaws have been invaluable, and John’s thoughtful approach to our strategies and goals has been unrelenting.  As a refresher, in alignment with our mission, the following were identified as the key strategy areas of focus:

  • Increasing and maintaining overall membership so that at least 67% of neurosurgery practices are represented.  We plan to accomplish this by staying in contact and engaging all members through virtual meetings and educational sessions. 
  • Developing a pipeline of organizational leadership for the future and beginning to engage members in meaningful ways.  We plan to accomplish this by reaching out to active committee members to engage them at a higher level.
  • Growing sponsorships so that we can continue to fund activities and speakers that will increase the value of our Annual Meeting for all attendees. We plan to accomplish this by allowing sponsors to offer virtual events throughout the year and engaging them outside of the annual meeting in other ways.
  • Increasing our value and relationship with organized neurosurgery.  We plan to accomplish this by working with an outside group of advisory members who will be part of our long-range planning and strategy efforts. We will be asking them to assist with vision and mission and to ensure that we are operating in a way that increases our value to everyone.

We have been able to maintain our membership numbers – something that was not guaranteed given the pandemic, but we are grateful that we continue to be a valuable source of networking and information, which continues to foster interest in joining our organization. Membership renewal time is upon us. I hope you will all renew your memberships. Our members are our greatest resource and are the reason we exist. Equally as important to longstanding members are new members, as the growth of NERVES is one essential component to our long-term success and viability. Our greatest advocates are you, our members.

I appreciate those who willingly volunteer to serve as Board Leadership, committee chairs, and committee members. As we look forward, there are a lot of great things to plan for our membership. If you are interested in getting involved in a NERVES committee, we would be excited to talk to you. You may confidentially contact Melissa Klingberg at [email protected].

Speaking of Melissa, I cannot thank her enough.  She took over the administration of NERVES just prior to the COVID pandemic and has handled every twist, turn, and challenge flawlessly.  She helps make our organization great, and we could not do it without her.  If you have an opportunity, I encourage you to drop her a note and thank her for all that she does for NERVES.

I also want to recognize John Lewis for his leadership and service to NERVES as President during this very chaotic past year.

Lastly, thank you to all our members.  You all have had difficult and important jobs to carry out during very turbulent times, yet you continue to actively participate and connect.  NERVES is grateful for your dedication and commitment. 

Thank you for being a member of NERVES…and for continuing to connect with other members!

 Steve Napolitan

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