AUA President Raju Thomas addresses his past year leading the Association
He calls for expanding the presence of the profession across the country.
Everyone can agree that AUA President Raju Thomas, MD, FACS, FRCS, knows how to make an entrance.
In true New Orleans style, Dr. Thomas, chair of the Urology Department at Tulane University, led his own second line into Hall A on Saturday morning, backed by a brass band playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” as a parade of revelers tossed beads to the enthusiastic crowd.
“It’s been three years [since AUA was in person],” Dr. Thomas said as he took the podium. “So I told them I needed a little bit of a celebration.”
The speech that followed was a celebration itself of all the AUA has accomplished in the past year. First, though, Dr. Thomas gave the crowd a little of his own history.
“I recognize it’s a three-legged stool that I’m sitting upon,” he said. “That three-legged stool started with my family. My family from India, where I grew up, and, of course, my current family here with me in the U.S.”
Dr. Thomas said the second leg of the stool is his tenure at Tulane University, where he has been for 45 years—27 of those as chair of the Urology Department. The third leg, of course, is the AUA itself.
“The AUA has been a fantastic organization ever since I joined way back when,” he said. “My life since then has revolved around the AUA. Everybody needs to be a member of the AUA. Everybody needs to be participating. Everybody needs to fill out every survey that we give you. Everything you give us makes life better for your patients and for you.”
Dr. Thomas highlighted some of the new initiatives that have started at the AUA, including the Innovation Nexus, which he said has been “igniting discoveries for commercial use,” and the 2022 Annual Urology Advocacy Summit held in Washington, D.C., in March.
“Another thing that AUA does for its members: As [others] try to chip away at our independence, the AUA is standing up for us [with the Advocacy Summit],” he said.
One of the challenges facing urology in the coming years is simply expanding the presence of the profession across the country.
“Over half of the counties in the U.S. do not have a urologist,” Dr. Thomas said. “That’s not good. We need to somehow be sure—having lost the war of transplants, having lost the fertility business, and now slowly losing the economy business—we cannot let that happen. We need to get together as a group and work on the workforce.”
Dr. Thomas said urology also faces challenges in diversity in research, a decreasing fee schedule in Medicare and the need to expand into telehealth. But all of those challenges can be met, he said, with the help of the AUA.
Ultimately, Dr. Thomas said he is still content to be sitting where he is.
“What matters most, at the end of the day, I’m still sitting on a three-legged stool that has been absolutely phenomenal,” he said. “Starting with family. That’s been a huge part of it all. I’m extremely happy and proud of my three-legged stool.”