2011 AANS Annual Report - page 11

Thinking Outside the Traditional
Member Benefits Box
The FAANS honorific went into effect on July 1, 2010, for
members certified and practicing in North America. This change
came about when voting members approved the AANS Bylaw
amendment, changing the category name to Fellow of the
American Association of Neurological Surgeons (FAANS). As a
result of this change, members in the Resident/Fellow category
are now called Candidates.
In the field of medicine, and especially within
the realm of the neurosciences, practitioners
must dedicate themselves to continuous
improvement in their craft. An offshoot of
this commitment to extensive education
and training, years of residency, and a
drive to continually learn is the close-knit
connection neurosurgeons develop with
both their colleagues and their field. When an individual receives
board certification and reaches that career landmark, it is an
accomplishment that not only places them in the esteemed company
of their peers, but also represents a level of aptitude that the greater
public should recognize.
Developing a term or title that would concurrently highlight an
individual’s level of achievement to colleagues, as well as their
neurosurgical knowledge and skill to overall society, would appear
the most logical approach to achieve that goal. And that was
precisely the idea Charles J. Prestigiacomo, MD, FAANS, FACS,
proposed to AANS President James T. Rutka, MD, PhD, FAANS,
after Dr. Prestigiacomo took over as the head of the AANS History
Section, and spent time researching the tradition and history of
Fellows compared to members.
“Fellowship embodies so much, from the skills needed to achieve
it to the camaraderie felt by the individuals who have achieved that
status,” said Dr. Prestigiacomo, who added that fellowship goes
back to the days of guilds, which showed like-mindedness and a
commitment to the field. “The honorific of Fellow signifies you have
achieved a major milestone within your field. The public at large has
an understanding of that. They view that individual as someone who
is at the top of their profession. That was the rationale behind the
FAANS designation.”
In addition, Dr. Prestigiacomo emphasized the role that fellowship
status signifies in terms of leadership in the field. “Fellows are experts,
masters of the discipline,” he explained. “With this privilege also comes
responsibility. Fellows of the AANS should be ready and willing to
serve and lead in the discipline, which extends from excellent patient
care and education to research and organized medicine. AANS
Fellows create legacy — a legacy for neurosurgery.”
While the initial proposal first looked at the comparison between
members and Fellows, and other organizations’ criteria for
fellowship were reviewed, the minimum criteria within the medical
field were always similar. Provisional members moved to active
members and, ultimately, to fellows. And while AANS members
certainly are neurosurgical leaders, Dr. Prestigiacomo said that in
attaining that FAANS status, neurosurgeons reach a new pinnacle of
“The FAANS designation truly signifies a level of accomplishment,”
noted Dr. Prestigiacomo. “Becoming board-certified is the brass ring
and the ultimate goal. Taking and passing the oral board examination
is one of the most stressful experiences of your life. It’s a major rite
of passage. Carrying that title means a person passed all the exams
and requirements for the field. It’s something the public will more
easily recognize.”
To help promote the use of the honorific, all AANS members who
achieved the FAANS designation received a certificate identifying
them as a Fellow of the AANS along with their membership dues. In
addition, Dr. Prestigiacomo said that neurosurgeons need to do more
to promote and showcase what FAANS means. “We need to show
it’s more than just something that we add to our name,” he asserted.
“The public won’t recognize it until doctors accept it.”
“Being a member of AANS is an honor in itself, and every
neurosurgeon has a responsibility to move the field forward,”
concluded Dr. Prestigiacomo. “Being a Fellow recognizes your level
of accomplishment and reminds you of your commitment to the field.
It helps patients understand it. The self-recognition certainly
After completing residency training in neurological surgery at the
Neurological Institute of New York, Dr. Prestigiacomo completed
fellowship training in Neuroendovascular Surgery at the Institute
for Neurology and Neuroscience, Beth Israel, in New York City. Dr.
Prestigiacomo is now Professor of Neurological Surgery, Radiology
and Neurology at the New Jersey Medical School, University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and serves as the Residency
Director for Neurological Surgery.
Raising Awareness by Fostering Fellowship
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