For more than 100 years, membership in the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has signified a surgeon’s commitment to delivering the highest quality patient care, and every day the staff and leadership strive to ensure that each generation of surgeons can meet the evolving challenges that face the profession. These are the key messages that a new campaign—Realize the Potential of Your Profession—is trying to convey to young surgeons who are debating the value of becoming a Fellow and being actively involved in the ACS.
A core element of this campaign calls upon ACS Fellows to share the benefits of membership with nonmember colleagues and directly engage young surgeons through various communications channels. We plan to offer a series of networking events to drive awareness and interest in ACS membership. For example, we will pair a senior leader with a young surgeon to host an event for potential members in key markets.
The value of Fellowship
Talking points that we plan to include in these interactions include the following:
ACS Fellows have been among the most eminent surgeons in the world. Early ACS Fellows, such as Ernest Amory Codman, MD, FACS; Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS; William J. and Charles H. Mayo, MD, FACS; and Harvey Cushing, MD, FACS, helped to define quality surgical patient care and set the standards for surgical education and training. Alfred Blalock, MD, FACS; Robert M. Zollinger, MD, FACS; David C. Sabiston, Jr., MD, FACS; Joseph Murray, MD, FACS; C. Rollins Hanlon, MD, FACS; and their peers led the College through a period of unprecedented advances in surgical treatment. More contemporary figures have helped to guide the College through decades of Medicare payment changes and increasing public demands for value-based care.
The ACS provides young surgeons with unparalleled access to opportunities for continuous professional development and exposure to clinical expertise, enabling them to be the best surgeons possible. The annual Clinical Congress of the ACS offers a range of hands-on and didactic courses, panel discussions, and social events where young surgeons can interact with leaders in the organization and the profession.
In addition, ACS publications, such as the Bulletin, the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, and various electronic newsletters, including ACS NewsScope and The ACS Advocate, ensure that members are informed about the issues that affect surgical practice, as well as advances in clinical care and scientific research. Furthermore, the Committee on Trauma (COT) and the Commission on Cancer (CoC) sponsor programs to help surgeons and other health care professionals provide optimal care to patients with some of the most acute surgical conditions.
The ACS helps young surgeons to develop leadership skills and ascend in their career. Each year, the ACS presents the ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, where young surgeons learn about the key characteristics of effective leaders, such as emotional intelligence, and put these skills to use to advocate on behalf of their patients. Furthermore, the ACS and several surgical specialty societies offer scholarships for surgeons to participate in the Heller Executive Leadership Program in Health Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Waltham, MA. The College also provides opportunities for young members to develop relationships with more established Fellows who can serve as professional mentors and coaches.
The ACS has developed a reputation as a leader in quality improvement. Through the standard-setting and verification activities of the COT, the CoC, The Joint Commission (which evolved from the ACS Hospital Standards Program), the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, and so on, the College has become a trusted advisor to policymakers on quality issues. The College also is at the forefront of advising surgeons on public reporting and offers services, such as the Surgeon Specific Registry, to help surgeons meet Maintenance of Certification and other regulatory requirements.
Fellows can connect with other surgeons and colleagues in ways that best suit their needs. The College’s robust membership of more than 80,000 allows surgeons of all specialties and practice models and locations to interact and to benefit from their shared knowledge and experience. Participation in the ACS provides opportunities to develop professional, collegial relationships with other surgeons who can be contacted for reliable advice, referrals, job leads, and so on.
Surgeons can get involved in a way that is customized to their interests and goals. The College offers national and regional meetings on a range of issues. Surgeons also are encouraged to play an active role in ACS committees centered on their unique interests—from clinical research to health policy initiatives to education and training. And with increased teleconferencing capabilities, surgeons rarely need to travel to participate in committee meetings.
The ACS provides surgeons with opportunities to influence health policy. The ACS is working with health policymakers to address the provision of care in mass-casualty events, Medicare payment reform, liability reform, regulations pertaining to the adoption and use of health information technology, state legislative advocacy, quality reporting, and so on. Two powerful advocacy tools available to Fellows include the ACS Professional Association political action committee (ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC) and SurgeonsVoice, a grassroots program.
Your involvement is imperative
As Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, Director, ACS Division of Members Services, has stated, “This initiative is designed to appeal to young surgeons in new and engaging ways.” To get the campaign started, this month we are rolling out a video, 100 Years, 100 Reasons to Join, which will be available via social media and on the ACS website. ACS leaders will also share the video at speaking engagements.
Just as the Inspiring Quality initiative became a cornerstone of the ACS’ efforts to advance surgical quality throughout the country, we anticipate that this program will help young surgeons to realize the potential of their profession through engagement with the College. The ACS has a legacy of excellence, and adding more young surgeons to our ranks and giving them access to a network of leaders and the array of resources for which the College is known will undoubtedly foster a future of excellence in surgical care. We look forward to sharing news and updates on this important endeavor and ask that all Fellows help us advance the College’s message to potential new members.