Luis Garcia, MD FACS MBA

Kevin, Helling, MD

Wayne English, MD FASMBS
Executive Council Liaison


Bree Dewing, MD
Frank Felts, MD FASMBS
Tammy Fouse, DO
Brandon Helbling, MD FASMBS

Linden Karas, MD
Howard McCollister, MD
Curtis Peery, MD FASMBS
John Pender, MD FACS
Walter Pories, MD

Raza Shariff, MD
Jessica Smith, MD
Andrew Van Osdol, MD
Ellen Vogels, DO
Kashif Zuberi, MD

ASMBS Staff Liaison

Leslie Vinson


To represent the rural bariatric surgical practices, foster and promote best care practices, identify challenges unique to the rural setting, and facilitate potential solutions.


The committee is composed of surgeons and integrated health professionals who provide care to bariatric patients in a rural or isolated setting.

Members of the committee will advise the Executive Council on trends of practice and issues unique to rural bariatric surgeons. This will facilitate a proactive approach to resolving programmatic and clinic issues pertaining to the rural surgery setting.

The committee serves as a resource for rural surgical practices to achieve high quality comprehensive programs in a rural setting.


  • To identify rural bariatric surgical practices
  • To represent the interests of metabolic and bariatric surgery in a rural setting
  • To identify the challenges unique to rural practitioners in the field of metabolic and bariatric surgery
  • To provide a template of collaboration to improve the care of the bariatric patient in the rural setting
  • To provide practice- or evidence-based solutions to these challenges
  • To define best practice guidelines and best standards of care in rural environments
  • To offer advice and support in recruitment, retention, mentoring, and post-residency/fellowship education to assure quality surgical care for rural bariatric patients
  • To address financial and business challenges of rural practitioners
  • To advocate for and support the accreditation of bariatric centers in rural America
  • To develop and maintain resources for existing rural accredited centers that provide care for bariatric patients
  • To improve access to care for the Bariatric patient in rural settings

Committee Goals


  1. Finalize committee leadership (Chair and Co-Chair)
  2. EC approval of new committee
  3. Continue to grow committee membership
  4. Define inclusion criteria, what constitutes a rural bariatric surgery practice
  5. Forum for rural collaborative, set up conference calls
  6. Determine barriers for MBSAQIP accreditation
Specific Projects that Achieve Goals and Objectives
  1. Identification of Rural Bariatric Surgery Practices
  2. Invitation to participate in Rural Committee: Final founding membership finalized including members from IA, ID, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NM, OH, SD, and WY
  3. Several committee meetings took place to complete committee leadership Chair and Co-chair selected
  4. Approval by Executive Council of ASMBS, designation of Liaison to the EC (Dr. Wayne English) and Administrative Assistant (Leslie Vinson)
  5. Connect Committee spotlight in the September/October 2017 issue
  6. First face-to-face meeting for the Committee in June during Obesity Weekend


  • Develop network of rural programs
  • Mentorship program for new rural programs (Toolkit, site visits)
  • Mentorship for quality improvement (proctoring opportunities, advice hotline)
  • Follow-up toolkit for non-surgeons in rural setting (IH task force already working on this)
Specific Projects that Achieve Goals and Objectives
  1. Meeting at ASMBS Weekend 2017 and ObesityWeek 2017
  2. Identification of potential Rural Programs across the nation to be included in the Rural Network
  3. Participation of rural committee members in committees of broader reach (i.e. ATC committee: Dr. Garcia)


  1. Help develop rural practice accreditation standards (if it is determined that they need to be different than current standards)
  2. Participation of all rural practices in MBSAQIP and ASMBS
  3. Develop a postgraduate course at ASMBS meetings specifically for remote/rural practices
  4. Mentorship pathway for committee members into ASMBS leadership/EC
  5. Tracking of outcomes data for Rural Centers
Specific Projects that Achieve Goals and Objectives
  1. Definition of Rural Bariatric Surgery (Using ACS model)
    2 Define inclusion criteria for potential members of the committee
  2. Ongoing discussions to develop a “toolkit” for the use of Telemedicine for care of patients located in remote areas

2017 Completed Projects

  1. Committee approved by EC March 2017
  2. Committee leadership finalized
  3. Developed a private Facebook page, a forum for Rural Surgery Collaborative Group