Robert R. Bahnson, MD, FACS, First Vice-President of the American College of Surgeons, has been named the new Chair of the Board of Directors of the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC (the American College of Surgeons Professional Association’s political action committee). Dr. Bahnson succeeds John H. Armstrong, MD, FACS, who resigned from the post to assume the role of Surgeon General and Secretary of Health for the State of Florida in May.
Dr. Bahnson is chief of staff at The Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute in Columbus, OH. He also is the Dave Longaberger Chair in Urology and professor and chairman of the department of urology at The Ohio State University.
The mission of the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC is to advocate for surgeons and surgical patients through bipartisan financial support for pro-surgery candidates and political education that elevates surgical practice. “A well-funded PAC sends a clear message of our involvement,” said Dr. Bahnson. “It provides the political clout necessary to positively influence the composition of Congress. A strong PAC helps elect champions who will join the campaign for the best possible policy outcomes.”
One of Dr. Bahnson’s immediate goals is to increase Fellows’ knowledge of both the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC and political processes. “Although awareness and participation have grown significantly in the past 10 years, only 4 percent of ACS Fellows invest in SurgeonsPAC,” he stated. “I hope to educate all surgeons about the critical importance of advocacy. When you understand how the system works, and you recognize the ramifications of not being involved, it is obvious we must be at the table to influence the delivery of health care.”
Another area of focus for Dr. Bahnson as Chair is to encourage all College members to enhance their advocacy efforts and get to know their senators and representatives. Personally delivering a campaign contribution, hosting a local fundraiser, leading members of Congress on a facility tour to demonstrate how surgeons save lives, participating in the ACS Advocacy Summit, and meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill are some of the ways Dr. Bahnson recommends that Fellows become engaged. “I was surprised to find out how simple it is to develop these relationships, and how much our College’s Washington Office facilitates these efforts,” he said. Dr. Bahnson speaks from personal experience, having hosted local physician fundraisers for Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) during this election cycle.
This year and beyond is a pivotal time for the future of health care. “It is a fact that health policy changes will dramatically alter the health care delivery system in the United States,” said Dr. Bahnson, but “we must be poised for action, participate in the process, and protect our patients and our practices. As leaders and surgeons, we must become fully engaged stakeholders in the legislative and political process to secure a viable future for the practice of surgery.”
Dr. Bahnson is considered to be highly qualified to meet the challenges ahead. “His reputation for dedication and his understanding of the legislative and political processes precedes him. I look forward to working with Dr. Bahnson and seeing his knowledge and leadership skills at work,” said Christian Shalgian, Director of the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy.
A graduate of Carleton College, Dr. Bahnson received his medical degree in 1979 from Tufts University in Boston, MA. He completed his residency at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. He previously held faculty positions at Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and at the University of Pittsburgh, PA. Prior to being elected First Vice-President, he served in several key leadership positions in the College. He was a member of the Board of Governors from 2004 to 2009, chaired the Urologic Advisory Council from 2007 to 2011, and the Advisory Council Chairs from 2009 to 2011, and was Vice-Chair of the Program Committee from 2009 to 2010. He is presently a Consultant to the Program Committee.