ACS Communities begins third year

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) online community platform, ACS Communities, recently began its third year and shows no signs of slowing down. Under the leadership of Tyler G. Hughes, MD, FACS, Editor-in-Chief, the communities have already become one of the most popular benefits of membership in the College, and the network continues to grow both in terms of number of communities and member engagement.

Popular member benefit

At press time, 104 ACS Communities were online, 69 of which are open and 35 of which are closed. Any member may join or leave an open community as desired, but closed communities are available only to members of specific committees, governing bodies, and so on. With more than 23,300 members, the General Surgery community is by far the largest, but 36 other communities have more than 1,000 members each. Communities exist for specialties and subspecialties (for example, Colon and Rectal, Pediatric, and Minimally Invasive Surgery); demographic categories (Rural Surgeons, Women Surgeons, and so on); and for chapters, committees, and other areas of interest to members of the College. There’s even an active community for surgeons who share a love of writing.

In terms of number of posts, the most popular communities are General Surgery, Breast Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Rural Surgery, Women Surgeons, Endocrine Surgery, Minimally Invasive Surgery, History of Surgery, Trauma Surgery, and Bariatric Surgery. The most popular closed community is the Board of Regents and Board of Governors community.

Since its inception, nearly 2.2 million pages have been viewed by the 23,846 members who have agreed to the community terms of use, and those members have logged in more than 635,000 times. More than 11,000 members have uploaded their profile photos, and more than 4,200 unique visitors have posted 6,500 new threads to the discussions. A total of 39,000 messages have been posted in ACS Communities. Many of the most popular discussion threads have received dozens of replies. Some of the hottest topics during the first two years of the ACS Communities were Maintenance of Certification and retirement, colon perforations, surgical attire, robotic surgery, current standards of care, open cholecystectomies, board certification, and surgical training.

An ACS mainstay

Perhaps the greatest accomplishment of the ACS Communities in its first two years is that it has woven itself into the fabric of College members’ everyday lives. Dr. Hughes and College staff regularly receive correspondence from members who say that the ACS Communities is of great value to them, and many who rarely post themselves attest to checking in on their communities every day. More than two-thirds of those surgeons who visit do so via desktop, while the rest enjoy access via phones and tablets. The ACS Communities app and a responsive version of the site make it easy to enter the communities from mobile devices. The average session lasts nearly 3.5 minutes—a lot of time for a busy surgeon.

As ACS Communities embarks on its third year, improvements are planned and more communities will emerge, allowing members to tap into the collective intelligence of their colleagues even more easily. As one member put it, “What an exceptional educational tool it has proven to be, and what a great way it has been for surgeons like me to be able to interact with and share ideas and experiences with so many (frequently geographically disparate) colleagues.”

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