Picture of Ciara Harraher, MD

Ciara Harraher, MD

CANS President

Cause and Effect

President's Message

It feels a bit surreal to be addressing you as the CANS President. If you had asked me even 15 years ago if I thought I would be leading the largest state neurosurgical society, I would have thought you were joking. State society? A bit of a foreign concept for this foreigner. I hail from the Great White North, well actually the New York-esque metropolis: Toronto, Canada. I have been fortunate to live all over the world and nowhere has felt more like home than California. I am its biggest cheerleader! The mountains, the ocean, the food, the wine… I could go on.  Outside of its natural beauty, when my husband and I arrived in 2010, we also felt a warm acceptance from the Stanford Neurosurgery department under the leadership of Dr. Gary Steinberg.  It felt like we should stay forever!

Fast-forward to now with two kids, two dogs and a busy general neurosurgical practice in Santa Cruz. Throughout this time, I have been drawn more and more to addressing the socioeconomic issues facing neurosurgeons. I credit finding this passion to some of my CANS mentors: Drs. Moustapha AbouSamra, Lawrence Shuer and Pat Wade to name only a few. Without their guidance, I may have not felt the connection and sense of community that kept me in California and willing to wage the battle to protect what we do.

I stand on the shoulders of many neurosurgeons in California that have been doing this work long before I was even born.  Drs. Phil Lippe, Donald Prolo and Randy Smith amongst others were tireless in their work on the state and national level. Now is not the time for us to be complacent. The snakes are in the grass as you will see when you read the remainder of this newsletter. Our main goal is to keep you updated on all matters that affect how you practice. That means we welcome your interaction and feedback and will be experimenting with other forms of communication to both retain and broaden our connections.  Our analysis shows that we are engaging with less than a third of neurosurgeons practicing in the state. As your Board, we want to make it clear that CANS is relevant and fighting for all neurosurgeons: for example, with our work in the state and federal legislature, CMA, AMA and CSNS.

If you have colleagues that aren’t part of CANS, ask them why? Is it that they are employed or salaried and think that this work isn’t connected to them?  It is. Medicare rates, for example set the benchmarks for how ALL of us are reimbursed and they have been flatlining for 20 years.  This has caused a crisis in access to care for our patients. Please encourage them to become members as we have more strength in numbers!

Over the next couple of months, your board of directors through its various committees will be covering several domains of work:

  1. Strategic Planning
  2. Operational Streamlining
  3. Member Engagement and Development
  4. Improving Communication and Visibility

As the year goes on, we will be updating you on any new initiatives and asking for your input. Please always feel to reach out to me directly at: Harraher@stanford.edu.

I look forward to working with all of you to strengthen CANS and lead it into the next phase of its advocacy.