New England Surgical Society
New England Surgical Society

Summer 2021 Newsletter

Summer 2021 Newsletter
» President's Message
» Newsletter Editor's Corner
» Secretary's Message
» Recorder's Message
» Program Chair's Message
» State Representative Updates
» GME & Candidate Membership Chair's Message
» Notice of 2021 Annual Meeting
» New Member Committee Chair's Message
» New Members Elected in 2021
» Task Force on Diversity & Inclusivity
» Dues Renewal
» Committee and Representative Listing
» NESS Job Board

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Beverly, MA 01915
Tel. (978) 927-8330
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Secretary's Message
Thomas J. Miner, MD, Secretary NESS
Thomas J. Miner, MD

As surgeons, we are accustomed to making decisions based on the assessment of risk. More and more, we must deliberately bring these professional skills to daily life. A simple act such as grocery shopping now requires deliberate decisions based on factors to include masking, assessment of personal and community vaccination status, consideration of viral infections rates, duration of interaction, density and behavior of other shoppers. Game Theory is a theoretical framework to conceive social situations among competing players and produce optimal decision-making of independent and competing actors in a strategic setting. According to Game Theory, the actions and choices of all participants affect the outcomes of each. It has a wide range of applications, including psychology, evolutionary biology, war, politics, business, medicine (to include advanced surgical decision making). Ideally when making personal, community, and population based decisions, Game Theory can help us make the complex decisions that are required. Unfortunately, Game Theory assumes that players make rational and reproducible decisions to guide their choices. I personally use this understanding to explain the frustration that I have when puzzled about their choices. Although Game Theory works on games that contain a strategic element (such as poker), it is irrelevant to games of chance which are described better by information and gambling theory represented by statistical inference and meta-analysis of probability. During these COVID times, however, are we playing roulette with our safety, when we go into stores, work, restaurants, or meetings? For all that we donít know about COVID, it is clear to me that it is not a random or chance event. From an academic perspective, we are not gambling. We are assessing risk, mitigating it where possible, and weighing the pros and cons of our decisions.

In these times of COVID, the irony of holding our next meeting in a casino, though, is not lost on me. I respect and appreciate the thoughtful, rational and personal decisions that others make even when they differ from mine. I have considered the vaccination status of myself and my peers, considered the available science and data based recommendations on travel and gatherings, read the standards and regulations of the Foxwoods venue, and weighed the personal and professional potential benefits of attendance. I am very excited to attend and very comfortable in encouraging my friends and colleagues to participate in person.

Although I hope to win big, this decision is not a gamble; itís a very safe bet.

Thomas J. Miner, MD
NESS Secretary

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