NASS Annual Meeting: Wang Recognized for Advocacy

NASS past president Jeffrey C. Wang, MD, is recognized for his advocacy work at the organization’s annual meeting. Hear from Dr. Wang what advocacy—and his award—means to him.

SpineUniverse Editorial Board Member Jeffrey Wang, MD, will be recognized for his advocacy work on behalf of spine specialists everywhere during the North American Spine Society (NASS) annual meeting in 2020. Dr. Wang weighed in on the importance of advocacy and his feelings around his award. 

Wang advocacy nassDr. Wang feels strongly about spine specialists and their patients being effectively represented in Washington, DC.It’s really simple, the first step is just recognizing how important advocacy is. Of all of the spine surgeons, and add to that, all spine practitioners, only a small fraction are aware of how important advocacy is, and even less contribute even a small amount to the advocacy efforts.

According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, spine disease and spinal disorders are the top reason for disability in the United States, and throughout the world. And, this is increasing over the past decades, whereas many of the other illnesses are decreasing. With the increase in spine related disability world-wide, it is more important now than ever before, that we take steps to tackle this enormous problem.

With the cuts and rising costs in healthcare, and the aging population, we need to ensure that government policies protect the population and patients, who unfortunately are at a high risk of developing spine-related disability. Inherent in this is helping spine practitioners have a voice in Washington, DC, with our policymakers to ensure that the right decisions are made.

Spine advocacy is a big part of NASS, and a large portion of the organization’s membership dues are targeted towards advocacy. If one were to really examine what NASS had done over the years, and the amazing success stories that have been critically supported by Advocacy from NASS, one would be amazed how much they have accomplished, with such a small budget.

I think the first step is realize the importance of advocacy, and then realizing how important even a small contribution is towards helping continue the amazing success of NASS advocacy. The next step is making an annual contribution to the NASS Advocacy fund, and to track the accomplishments. This allows one to see how amazing the NASS group is in this area, and gives one a satisfaction that the money is spent wisely, and has made a difference. I would encourage all to consider getting to this stage.

As for the Advocacy award, I must admit, I was very pleasantly surprised. Being the current Past-President of NASS, I was just honored to serve NASS over the years in leadership roles, and in NASS leadership, we always tried to target individuals for awards who have not had leadership roles or the Presidency of NASS.

In fact, being a President of NASS, has made me mostly ineligible for most of the annual NASS awards, which is a conscious effort made during the years I was on the board. The fact that I was fortunate enough to be given this award, which is one of the few—if not the only—that I am eligible to receive makes this so surprising, and yet so personally satisfying for me.

I am sincerely honored to receive this award. When I look back and try to summarize my work, I am humbled by the award, as I was just doing what I thought was best for our patients with spinal disorders and the spine practitioners in the US. I think leading into this past year, I had contributed regularly and attended the advocacy dinners, events, and NASS-sponsored initiatives throughout the years.

During the year of my presidency and throughout my tenure on the NASS board of directors, I always supported the advocacy efforts, and personally attended as many events as possible. I always tried to at least appear at every event possible, and actively thank our donors, and continued to strive to get the message out to the membership of the importance of advocacy. And, in my leadership roles, I have given support, whenever possible.

During this past year, I hosted advocacy events at NASS functions, and hosted dinners locally in Los Angeles, including silent auctions, dinners, and communications to our members regarding local and national issues. I participated in nationwide NASS advocacy webinars with Congressmen and lawmakers, and hosted congressmen at local dinners, and NASS events throughout the year, in order to garner support for advocacy.

In addition, as a member of the NASS board of directors, I supported the advocacy efforts within the organization at board meetings, leadership meetings, and with regular communications, to garner support internally in the organization, with our staff and policies. And lastly, I have served as an ambassador, representing NASS to other international medical and spine societies, to continue advocacy on a global scale, helping to organize international organizations towards advocacy, both within their countries and regions, but also banding together towards policies such as value-based care, and recognizing the global burden of spine disease. Just next week [in October 2020], I will be speaking on behalf of an international group of spine societies, trying to help governments recognize the importance of spinal disease, representing NASS.

Overall, I am honored and humbled to receive this award, and I believe it is likely the result of all the work over the years, culminating in the past year where there have been many opportunities to specifically work on behalf of NASS Advocacy. I would encourage anyone interested in learning more to take a look at the NASS website and learn more

Updated on: 10/05/20
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