This summer, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) retired our members-only Web portal, efacs.org, migrating some features to our new public website for members-only viewers and replacing it with a state-of-the-art online community platform that enables College members to easily and effectively connect with one another on topics of shared interest. A few days later, we launched our new public website, facs.org, designed for easy access from desktops, tablets, and smartphones (see Figure 1). An 18-month period of discovery, evaluation, and content redevelopment preceded the launch of these new sites—both designed with the member experience as a top priority.
Become part of ACS Communities
ACS Communities, which can be accessed directly through the facs.org home page or by typing acscommunities.facs.org, now serves as the College’s members-only, online community. This networking tool provides an environment in which ACS members can not only connect, engage, and share critical information and best practices in real time, but also ask for advice, share experiences, exchange photos and videos, and build professional relationships. ACS Communities’ private forums are protected by multiple security levels that give members the ability to discuss the issues that matter most to them without jeopardizing patient confidentiality.
ACS Governor Tyler Hughes, MD, FACS, serves as the Medical Editor of the ACS Communities and has spent countless hours working with staff and member beta test users to make ACS Communities an outstanding place for you to connect with your colleagues.
Update your profile, join communities
It’s easy to log in and get started using ACS Communities. Unless you have specified otherwise in the College’s records, the default username is your eight-digit member ID, and the default password is your last name.
Profiles in ACS Communities facilitate collaboration among members by making it easy to find colleagues with similar interests and backgrounds. ACS staff used information from the member database to complete your new profile, including your name, organization, professional designations, areas of special interest, and so on (see Figure 2). Members are encouraged to fill in any gaps to take full advantage of ACS Communities’ offerings. For example, remember to upload a picture of yourself, if one is not currently in the ACS system. Digital ribbons underneath profile photos show level of involvement with the College, as well as with ACS Communities. Immediately under the ribbons is a listing of the communities to which you belong. You may join other communities that interest you by simply clicking “Join,” except for those that are closed to specific member groups, such as the Board of Governors. Use the “Communities” menu item to see all of the possible communities available for you to join. The initial communities created on the site include Board of Governors (closed), Resident and Associate Society (RAS-ACS), General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, and Rural Surgery. More communities will be added in the coming months.
Search for colleagues
Use the “Directory” link in the top navigation bar to find other members of the College. If you know someone’s name, company, or e-mail address, you can use the basic search to locate that individual. To search for people by location, areas of clinical concentration, education and training, and specialty, use the advanced search function. Once you’ve found the person(s) who you’re looking for, you can view profiles, send a message, or add as a contact.
Not only is ACS Communities accessible via desktop, tablet, or mobile device, but new features will be added in the coming months to make ACS Communities even more collaborative. The ACS is pleased to make this new tool available to members, so that users can share their knowledge with other members, and we hope that all ACS members will take advantage of this opportunity to become better surgeons. (A helpful “frequently asked questions” section, or FAQ, may be accessed from the top of any page in the event you need assistance.)
Using the new facs.org
Although it is ostensibly a public website, the new facs.org was developed expressly with you—the ACS member—in mind. You can navigate the new site with greater ease and utility on any modern, Internet-capable device. Instead of building three separate versions for various viewing devices, only one version of the site was developed using responsive Web design best practices. Responsive design means that as a user, you will see nearly the same information and enjoy the same functionality regardless of which device you use to visit facs.org. Site content is scaled to provide the best view and navigation experience based on your device’s browsing capabilities.
Manage your membership features
All members of the College are encouraged to first sign in to the new site to take advantage of the secure content areas that are available to “members only.” In this location you will find that most of your ACS-related business needs can be handled through the “My Profile” section. You can manage continuing medical education (CME) credits, update your membership profile (click on the pencil icon), pay dues, update your case log in the Surgeon Specific Registry, track ACS purchases, find out who represents you on the ACS Advisory Councils and Board of Governors, learn what chapter you belong to and how to contact its officers, and discover other member benefit highlights.
Single sign-on technology is a new feature of ACS Web properties, meaning you will not have to sign in again to take advantage of most membership features, unless you log out or try to access these features from a different device. Moreover, you can now visit ACS Communities and the Journal of the American College of Surgeons online without having to log in again.
Spotlight on ACS pillars
The ACS home page is organized to emphasize the College’s pillars: Member Services, Quality Programs, Education, and Advocacy. These four pillars provide the backbone of the content for the entire website and are positioned on a prominent navigation bar that stays with you as you browse the website (see Figure 3). Clicking on any of the pillar navigation headings provides you with an extensive list of related programs and topics in those four content areas.
The Member Services Pillar provides an overview of the benefits of ACS membership. The new Member Benefits section has been organized by membership category—from medical student to ACS Fellow. In this area, you will find information on scholarship and fellowship opportunities, how to connect with your local chapter, and a link to the College job bank, ACS Career Connection.
Information regarding all ACS Quality Programs can be viewed in the same menu section of the website. This section provides an overview and specific details about our surgical quality initiatives in the areas of surgical quality improvement, bariatric and metabolic surgery, cancer center accreditation, breast center accreditation, trauma center verification and quality improvement, and the overall role that the College has played in providing leadership in quality surgical care in the U.S.
Likewise, the Education Pillar pulls in educational offerings from ACS trauma, cancer, and continuous quality improvement programs, in addition to presenting the wide range of outstanding programs that you’ve come to expect from the ACS Division of Education.
Visiting the Advocacy section on a regular basis will keep you up to date on the latest in advocacy and health policy activities at the federal and state levels—activities that represent the interests of you, the practicing surgeon, and your patients.
Federated search feature
The new website employs a federated search feature, meaning that one search box on the website can be used to search multiple sources of information. This function allows the general public to search for a qualified surgeon who is a Fellow, in addition to finding a treatment facility verified or accredited by the ACS.
By default, the search box in the header of the new website searches the text content of the current site (see Figure 4). But you can further seek out the “Search Options” menu next to the search box, which allows you to search various ACS databases. Using Search Options, you can search the following areas:
- Website content
- Find a Surgeon (our membership database)
- Commission on Cancer (CoC)-Accredited Cancer Programs
- Committee on Trauma (COT)-Verified Trauma Centers
- ACS Accredited Education Institutes
- National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC)-Accredited Breast Centers
- Trauma Centers enrolled in Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP®)
Other controls allow you to narrow your search. You can refine your facility search by state, city, ZIP code, country, distance, and several other variables that differ by program. You can also refine a surgeon search activity by using similar controls.
Utility bar features
The grey utility bar at the top of the home page contains several links that carry over to every page of the site (see Figure 5). “Events” takes you to an online calendar that lists CME opportunities offered by the College and events organized by ACS chapters and other appropriate groups, such as surgical specialty societies and academic medical centers. Further along that utility bar, “Shop” takes you to the ACS e-commerce section. Here you can find and purchase resources for lifelong surgical educational needs, standards manuals, reference tools, and have the option to register for courses, and contribute to the ACS Foundation. The “My Profile” link is also prominently placed in this bar so that you can easily view your profile and keep it up to date. A current profile means your colleagues and patients can always find you, and you can continue to receive e-mail and print communications from the ACS without interruption.
Another way to browse site content is to choose the audience to which you belong. The site has a global footer that lists the College’s key audience groups (see Figure 6). Surgeons, international surgeons, Associate Fellows, residents, and medical students are all directed to targeted information based on where they are on the surgical career path. Patients and families are directed to the ACS Patient Education Web pages, while the media are directed to our online newsroom, which features press releases reporting on ACS initiatives, news from the Clinical Congress and other meetings, and studies published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.
Users will also find a prominent “Find a Surgeon” feature in this footer, which has been developed in tandem with the federated search feature and represents a more prominent way for patients in your geographic area to find you.
The ACS encourages you to view the online tutorial video located on the home page, which contains brief descriptions on how to navigate the new website. With more than 2,200 pages and files online, we anticipate you’ll find much more to explore as you become acquainted with the new facs.org.