This month’s column features three new resources that will contribute to your personal and professional development and provide added value to you as a member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).
On the personal side, the College remains committed to your well-being and earlier this year launched a new web page of articles and resources developed by the ACS and other leading organizations that can help you and your colleagues overcome burnout. These resources include a new assessment tool, the Physician Well-Being Index, which was made available to Fellows and Associate Fellows in January. This online tool allows users to assess their overall well-being, identify areas of risk, and access key resources.
On the professional side, the ACS Board of Governors Surgical Training Workgroup has released four new teaching aids that address key topics relevant to faculty, including Teaching Millennials, Giving Constructive Feedback, Intraoperative Teaching, and Clinical Teaching: The Teachable Moment.
This column describes an educational resource from the ACS Clinical Research Program (CRP), the Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery manuals. Volume 1, published in 2015, is targeted at those surgeons whose practice encompasses breast, lung, pancreas, and colon cancer surgery. Volume 2 will be published later this year and will focus on operations for melanoma, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, rectal cancer, and thyroid cancer.
Burnout and low quality of life are common among U.S. surgeons and appear to adversely affect quality of care, job satisfaction, career longevity, and risk of suicide. The ACS is committed to providing resources to support surgeon well-being, which is vital to successful patient care.
The Physician Well-Being Index is a new ACS member benefit aimed at helping surgeons maintain an overall sense of well-being professionally and personally. It is a validated assessment tool designed to help you better understand your overall well-being and identify areas of risk in comparison with physicians across the nation.
The tool was released in January, and at press time more than 1,300 Fellows and Associate Fellows had completed the assessment. Of those ACS members, the highest levels of distress were exhibited among those surgeons 15 to 24 years into their postgraduate surgical careers. The scores among ACS members are comparable to the national sample of more than 7,300 U.S. physicians, and one-third of respondents are women. The most common resources accessed by individuals who have completed the assessment address stress and resiliency, emotional concerns, relationships, and work-life balance. A version of the tool for residents was released in February.
First-time users will need to register to access the Physician Well-Being Index. The registration screen collects the following information, which is used to create your well-being report and compare your well-being with others nationally: your e-mail address, gender, medical school graduation year, specialty, and state. This information is kept confidential. You also will need to create a password for the site and agree to the terms and conditions. A detailed privacy and confidentiality agreement is accessible from the registration page.
Once registered, you will go to the assessment screen. It should take no more than two minutes to complete, and results become available immediately. The Physician Well-Being Index tracks your results over time so you can retake the assessment periodically to monitor your progress and correlate changes in well-being results to life and practice events.
Based on your index results, the tool provides resources when they’re needed the most. The most accurate way to assess your well-being is to benchmark your results against physicians on a national level. You will see where you exceed and where you may be at a higher risk for burnout in comparison with your peers. After completing the Physician Well-Being Index, you will have access to both national and local resources that span multiple categories and topics.
The College invites you to invest five minutes in yourself by using the Physician Well-Being Index and to retake the assessment periodically to track your progress. We welcome your feedback on the tool and encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the tool and to receive your access code.
In addition to the index tool, the Surgeon Well-Being website includes a collection of articles published on burnout by the ACS and additional resources on burnout available from the American Medical Association and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. The ACS Board of Governors Physician Competency and Health Workgroup developed these resources and works on behalf of the members to develop new programs and tools that contribute to Fellows’ physical and mental wellness. The workgroup also is responsible for addressing issues related to surgical competency, credentialing, and practice within expected community standards.
New teaching aids for faculty
The ACS Board of Governors Surgical Training Workgroup has developed several educational resources for members that address the unique needs of faculty, particularly those surgeons practicing in nonacademic settings. Each of the following modules has been produced as a downloadable PowerPoint presentation and provides detailed strategies for resident and medical student teaching:
- Teaching Millennials covers strategies for teaching young surgeons born between 1980 and 2000.
- Giving Constructive Feedback defines feedback and addresses why it’s important, discusses obstacles to providing effective feedback, and offers suggestions for providing feedback in real-world situations.
- Intraoperative Teaching covers techniques for surgical teaching in the preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative settings.
- Clinical Teaching: The Teachable Moment provides strategies for effectively educating students and residents.
If you have any questions or comments regarding these teaching aides, contact Connie Bura, Associate Director, Member Services, at email@example.com.
Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery: An educational tool for the practicing surgical oncologist
To address the technical aspects of standardizing surgical care, the ACS CRP, a program of the Alliance for Clinical Trials in Oncology and the College, has developed the Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery manuals. First envisioned by Heidi Nelson, MD, FACS, Past-Program Director of the ACS CRP, and led by Kelly K. Hunt, MD, FACS, current Director of the ACS CRP, the manuals offer minimum standards for various cancer operations and can serve as a reference for clinical trials that involve surgical interventions.
With the participation of more than 120 surgeons, Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery Volume 1 is perhaps the best resource available on the conduct of operations for cancer of the breast, colon, lung, and pancreas. The second volume, led by Matthew H.G. Katz, MD, FACS, and Nirmal K. Veeramachaneni, MD, FACS, will be published in 2017. Volume 2 involved contributions by more than 140 surgeons and will include operations for melanoma, gastric cancer, esophageal cancer, rectal cancer, and thyroid cancer. For more information, contact Amanda Francescatti, MS, Manager, ACS CRP, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Physician Well-Being Index and educational modules are both important resources that are available as free benefits of ACS membership, and the Operative Standards for Cancer Surgery manual is a must-have for every surgeon’s library. Be sure to take advantage of all these products.