The Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) has chosen Richard J. Finley, MD, FACS, FRCSC, a general thoracic surgeon, Vancouver General and Surrey Memorial Hospitals, BC, and emeritus professor, department of surgery, University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, to receive the 2017 Distinguished Service Award (DSA). The Regents will present the award—the College’s highest honor—Sunday, October 22, during the Convocation preceding Clinical Congress 2017 at the San Diego Convention Center, CA.
The Board of Regents is presenting the DSA to Dr. Finley in appreciation for his longstanding and devoted service as an ACS Fellow, the Chair (1993−1995) and Vice-Chair (1992−1993) of the Board of Governors (B/G), a member of the Board of Regents (2000−2009), and as ACS First Vice-President (2010). The award citation recognizes his “long-term commitment to improving graduate education for future generations” and his pioneering contributions in the area of health information technology, including his service as Chair of the ACS Web Portal Editorial Board (2005−2012) and Chair of the ACS Education Task Force on Practice-Based Learning and Improvement (2002−2009).
The citation acknowledges “his leadership as a driving force for change to better train future surgeons by electronic means and skills learning modules.” The award underscores “his natural leadership, integrity, vision, and services as a role model to surgeons everywhere to always do the right thing for patients.”
Commitment to education
Dr. Finley has devoted much of his career to surgical education. The many residents and fellows he has trained describe Dr. Finley as an outstanding teacher and mentor, enthusiastic and innovative, and an asset to residency education. Dr. Finley has participated in the training of 14 general thoracic surgeons who now practice in academic hospitals across Canada. He is the recipient of several teaching and scholarship awards, including the UBC department of surgery Master Teaching Award (1991) and Best Teacher, Interns and Residents, University of Western Ontario, London.
Prior to assuming the position of emeritus professor at UBC, he was professor of surgery (1989−2016); head, department of surgery (1989−2001); and head, division of thoracic surgery (1994−2014) at UBC. In addition, Dr. Finley was surgeon-in-chief at Vancouver Hospital (1997–2001); head (1989–2001), department of surgery, and medical director (1992), clinical practice unit, Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Center, BC; and consultant staff at British Columbia Cancer Agency, Vancouver (1989–2015). Previously, Dr. Finley was chief of surgery (1985–1988) and attending surgeon, Victoria Hospital, London, ON, and a consulting surgeon, University Hospital & Ontario Cancer Foundation (1979–1988).
After graduating with honors from the University of Western Ontario Medical School, he did an internship at Vancouver General Hospital, followed by residency in surgery and cardiothoracic surgery at the University of Western Ontario. He then completed a medical research fellowship at Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, and another year of postgraduate training at the University of Toronto, department of surgery, division of thoracic surgery. Dr. Finley then returned to the University of Western Ontario, working his way up from assistant professor (1979–1983) to associate professor (1983–1989), department of surgery.
He has chaired multiple committees at the institutions where he has practiced and taught, including the faculty executive committee and surgical advisory committee at UBC and the surgical advisory committee, minimally invasive surgery, operating room council, and operating room executive team at Vancouver Hospital & Health Sciences Centre.
Dr. Finley’s areas of special interest and accomplishment include pulmonary and esophageal surgery; metabolic and cardiopulmonary responses to sepsis, trauma, and cancer; computed tomography-guided video-assisted thoracoscopic resection of small peripheral lung cancers; quality improvement of perioperative processes; and regionalization of thoracic surgery services in British Columbia. He has been awarded 12 competitive research or equivalent grants from the Canadian Institute of Health Research, the National Cancer Institute, and a number of health care organizations.
Dr. Finley has been a Fellow of the ACS since 1983. In addition to his many achievements within the organization described earlier, he served as an ACS Governor (1989–1995), working on the B/G Ambulatory Surgery (1991), Surgical Infection (1993), Surgical Practice (1993), Communications (1991–1995), and Executive (1990–1995) Committees. As an ACS Regent, he served on the Advisory Council for General Surgery (2000–2009), the Research and Optimal Patient Care Committee (Chair, 2009), the Nominating Committee (2005–2007, Chair 2008), and the Finance Committee (2002–2004).
Dr. Finley has served as president of the International James IV Surgical Association (1998–2001), the British Columbia Surgical Association (2006), and the Canadian Association of Thoracic Surgeons (2004–2006). He also served as a Vice-President of the American Surgical Association and Chair of the Canadian Association of Surgical Chairs. He has been a member of the editorial boards for the Journal of the American College of Surgeons (1999–2006), Annals of Surgery (2002–2015), and Canadian Journal of Surgery (2004–2009). He has authored or co-authored 103 journal articles and 23 book chapters and has delivered 117 invited lectureships.