Dear ASNM Members:
I am very excited and humbled to become the President of the American Society of Neurophysiological Monitoring (ASNM) for the year 2020-21. When starting as a medical student thirty-five years ago in Pakistan, or while driving hundreds of miles daily as a new IONM technologist covering surgeries in various states (some years later in the USA), I had not thought that one day I would be leading a premier organization like ASNM. But here I am writing this letter to you - it is truly an honor and a blessing of God.
I moved to the USA in 1992, along with my wife for higher education. After completing my graduate education in Biomedical Engineering, I started my career as a technologist in Detroit, MI, with Biotronic. Over the past two decades, I have been fortunate to work in diverse IONM capacities such as a technologist, neurophysiologist, supervisor, trainer, and as an educator. I have provided in-house and remote-physician oversight for a wide range of procedures. Over the years, I have worked with some phenomenal people in various companies. To all of them, I say thank you for being my colleague, educator, and friend. Some of the IONM companies where I have worked include Sentient, Impulse, Specialitycare, Safe Passage, and Neuro Alert. I have also done IONM-related work in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan. Currently, I work with Axis Neuromonitoring in their Richardson, TX location. I am blessed working with people at Axis that care about improving IONM to the best of its capacity. I have been an active member of the ASNM since 2002. I have volunteered in membership, education, research, guidelines, monitor, and applied philanthropic committees. I have been fortunate to have attended every annual meeting since 2002; however, this year will be the first time, where I would have missed a physical meeting of ASNM. I pray that we meet again under better circumstances.
Let’s first discuss some of the challenges we as IONM people face under the current times. The current COVID-19 situation has significantly changed not only our personal lives but the manner under which we operate professionally. The beginning of the pandemic saw the cancellation of elective surgeries, which significantly affected IONM services as well. We have soon picked after; however, we are not out of the woods yet. We need to keep striving to keep ‘IONM’ out of the ‘elective’ category. As IONM professionals, one of the most critical tasks that we should always keep in mind is to educate the healthcare staff around us about the essential nature of IONM. The current pandemic has resulted in the world being connected more than ever in the virtual environment. It has thus made it easier to educate about IONM with all the different platforms available for meetings, webinars, and such. No longer do we have to wait to meet in conferences to disseminate knowledge about IONM. We can do so at the click of a button with groups of various sizes. Reimbursement for IONM services by insurance companies is another challenge that we in the ASNM society face regularly. However, I feel that this challenge is again primarily related to the lack of information and education that is prevalent about the necessity of IONM services. This second challenge is also perhaps related to some unethical practices by a handful of IONM practitioners that have resulted in insurance companies getting into the practice of denying IONM claims.
Let’s talk about education now. Over the past years, first, as a member and later as the membership committee chair, I have been able to get your inputs about education. ASNM has been successfully offering multiple webinars free to its members every year. This year we had a successful virtual winter symposium, and recently our first Town Hall Motor Evoked Potentials (MEP) Interactive Webinar. We plan to provide more educational activities for our members this year – however, a tremendous amount of work is needed in the coming years. We need new people to volunteer in various committees. I request every member to pitch in their services, whether it be joining a committee, speaking at a meeting, submitting new research for conferences, or running for office, etc. I would like to invite you to participate in multicenter high caliber research, publish outcome studies to show the benefits of IONM, ask colleagues and friends to join as members, combine forces with other related organizations, educate the insurance companies about the benefits of IONM and strengthen our advocacy efforts to lobby for ASNM and IONM related issues.
Over the next year, we will continue to strengthen our professionalism through education, training, research, and better resources. I believe if we work hard and together, ASNM will become stronger and better and reemerge as a leading society in the field of IONM. We are proud of our past and excited about the ASNM future.
I would like to thank ASNM past president, Rich Vogel, for his dedication and contribution to the ASNM. I would also like to thank the outgoing Board of Directors Jeff Gertsch, Leah Hanson, Bryan Wilent, and of our members for making last year possible. I would like to thank everyone else at ASNM here that I have not mentioned by name – thanks for being a mentor, an educator, and for raising the ranks of ASNM at which it stands today. I would like to welcome our new President-Elect, Dr. Laura Hemmer, and board members Clare Gale, Cheryl Wiggins, Tara Stewart, Lanjun Guo, and Larry Wierzbowski. Special thanks to our industry sponsors for their continuous support and a tremendous job by our management team at Affinity Strategies.
Thank you again for this opportunity.
Faisal R. Jahangiri
MD, CNIM, D.ABNM, FASNM, FASET