FROM THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER: Reflecting on 2021 and Looking Ahead to 2022

By: Michael T. Sheppard, CPA, CAE | Posted on: 01 Dec 2021

As 2021 comes to a close, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the strides we made this year. There’s no question that 2021 was an arduous year, yet as I reflect on what transpired, I am humbled by the continued perseverance of our members, volunteers and staff. I would like to take a moment to express my profound gratitude to the entire urology community, as well as the broader medical community, for all you do on a daily basis and all you’ve done this past year to care for patients and advance the specialty worldwide.

This year has been filled with a multitude of challenges and successes. As a globally engaged organization, the AUA represents all facets of the urology community. From retired urologists and those just starting out in medicine to advanced practice professionals, allied health care professionals and research scientists, our members are at the core of everything we do. In 2021, the AUA welcomed more than 2,400 new members, bringing our global footprint to more than 24,000 members. Further, we experienced a record-breaking year for the 2021 Urology Residency Match, resulting in the highest number of applicants, programs, positions filled and female applicants to date–including a 74% match rate, leaving zero vacancies.

Although it’s clear the pandemic continues to have a grasp on the world, it also provided the opportunity to embrace new modes of video-based technology and dynamic learning styles to expand our capacity and meet the needs of our members wherever they may be. For instance, this year we offered our benign prostatic hyperplasia education in 4 languages–English, French, Portuguese and Spanish–launched a new AUAUniversity app, bringing together all of our esteemed educational content into one mobile platform, and introduced a new Business of Urology Compensation Program. Additionally, we delivered nearly 190 domestic–and more than 40 international–educational activities. Although COVID-19 resulted in a fully virtual Annual Meeting, we successfully delivered a robust offering of learning and engagement, including educational programming, abstracts, keynotes and courses to every corner of the globe. The AUA Annual Meeting remains the premier urological educational, research, policy and networking experience in the world, and we look forward to seeing you next May in New Orleans.

In addition, we had tremendous success with our Journals and publications. The Journal of Urology® impact factor increased 26% to 7.45; we announced our upcoming Gold Open Access journal, JU Open Plus®; we launched a new AUANews online content platform; and our Urology Practice® journal published the most articles in 2021 since its inception 7 years ago.

Additionally, we established the AUA Diversity & Inclusion Task Force, chaired by Dr. Tracy Downs and co-chaired by Dr. Simone Thavaseelan. This task force is made up of a dedicated group of knowledgeable and motivated individuals who will identify specific and actionable steps for how the AUA can continue to advocate for and foster a diverse and inclusive environment within the Association, as well as the global urology community. In April of this year, we launched an AUANews focus issue celebrating diversity within the AUA, which I encourage you all to read. Additionally, our AUA Medical Student Education Committee provided a Diversity in Urology: Initiatives and Opportunities webinar, we introduced new webinars and podcasts on disparities in prostate cancer, and we worked with the Urology Care Foundation to link its humanitarian mission with initiatives addressing disparities of care.

The AUA Quality (AQUA) Registry also continued with yet another successful year. Now in its sixth consecutive year as a CMS-designated Qualified Clinical Data Registry, more than 2,000 providers from across 42 states are now enrolled, and 7,500,000 patients are represented in the data results. Developed by urologists for urologists, AQUA is designed to measure, report and improve health care quality and patient outcomes. Whether a solo practitioner, a member of a large group or a part of a medical institution, the AQUA Registry continues to be a leading registry for urological data.

In 2021, the AUA Office of Research reached several milestones in funding and education. We introduced our Leadership in Education, Achievement and Diversity (LEAD) program, which will support 3 urology residents per year from racial and ethnic backgrounds that are underrepresented in urologic research; we held our 9th Annual Early-Career Investigator Workshop, as well as our 3rd Annual Urology Scientific Mentoring and Research Training (USMART) Academy; and provided nearly $1.5 million in research funding, awarding:

  • 4 Rising Stars in Urology Research Awards
  • 43 Research Scholar Awards
  • 1 Physician Scientist Residency Training Award
  • 6 Residency Research Awards
  • 12 Summer Medical Student Fellowships

In this challenging political landscape, our advocacy team continued to make great progress, ensuring critical interests for our members and their patients are promoted to a wide array of decision makers. Not only did we hold a very successful virtual AUA Advocacy Summit aimed at expanding, strengthening and unifying the voice of urology on policy matters impacting our members and their patients, we also expanded our reach in Washington with the introduction of H.R. 944, the specialty physician loan repayment bill, and H.R. 4880/S.2720, the Veterans’ Prostate Cancer Treatment and Research Act.

I recognize much of this work would not be possible without the support of our members, volunteers and staff, and I remain thankful for the more than 400 urologists who volunteered on over 35 AUA committees this calendar year. This steadfast commitment is what helps us deliver on our mission and promise as we advance urology around the world. While this is only a small look into the Association’s accomplishments for 2021, I very much look forward to another productive year in 2022!