Rural Committee

Arnold D. Salzberg, MD FACS

Linden Karas, MD FACS

Executive Council Liaison


Stephanie Cox, PhD ABPP
Bree Dewing, MD FACS
Frank Felts, MD
Tammy Fouse, DO, Immediate Past Chair
Ashley Gerrish, MD
Magdy Giurgius, MD FACS

Brandon Helbling, MD FACS
Kevin Helling, MD FACS, Senior Past Chair
Abi James, MD
Megan Lundgren, MD
Joseph Moran, MD FACS

Walter Pories, MD
Raza Shariff, MD FACS
Jessica Smith, MD MPH FACS
James Taggart, MD
Ellen Vogels, DO
Kashif Zuberi, MD

ASMBS Staff Liaison

Leslie Vinson

ASMBS Rural Committee Sites


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

2023-2024 Committee Goals

  1. Rural Outcomes IRB research project/publish data in peer reviewed source
  2. Participation of all rural practices in MBSAQIP– based on survey outcomes assist rural practices in meeting accreditation standards
  3. Continue to grow committee membership and be a mentorship pathway for committee members into ASMBS leadership/EC
  4. Grow the Rural Bariatric Surgery Facebook Group (Please note this is a private page for ASMBS members only)

Specific Projects that Achieve Goals and Objectives

  1. Identify an IRB that will enable data collection in a research project that will report outcomes in rural centers compared to urban centers and demonstrate safety and durability of surgical procedures; utilize the outcomes data to demonstrate safety and durability of surgical procedures at those programs in a publication – project proposal in progress
  2. Survey membership to collect data about, determine, and address barriers to MBSAQIP accreditation in smaller, rural programs
  3. New members added throughout the year including members in a rural setting and members whose patients come from a rural setting

2022-2023 Completed Projects

  1. Identified an IRB that will enable rural data accumulation for a research project that will report outcomes in rural centers compared to urban centers and demonstrate safety and durability of surgical procedures (if approved)
  2. Surveyed membership on rural programs’ barriers to MBSAQIP accreditation
  3. Continued to foster improved communication and support between rural surgeons

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