Governors’ Committee on Chapter Relations

The Board of Governors’ Committee on Chapter Relations (GCCR) had a very busy year. Last year, the GCCR was structured into 10 geographic areas representing groups of state chapters. Following the annual meeting at the 2011 Clinical Congress, the committee functioned during 2012 principally through the use of conference calls. These calls included discussion of several individual subcommittee projects.

Meanwhile, the Board of Governors (B/G) has been undergoing a redesign under the direction of B/G Chair Lena Napolitano, MD, FACS. An ad hoc committee was appointed for this purpose at the close of the Governors’ meetings held during the 2012 Clinical Congress. Although still a work in progress, some aspects of that redesign will be discussed in this summary of the GCCR’s activities over the last year.

Increasing diversity

As an advocate and resource for all chapters of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the GCCR has evolved into a diverse assembly of Governors representing U.S. Fellows and as an emerging voice for ACS Fellows throughout the world. The ACS now has 65 U.S. chapters, two Canadian chapters, and 37 international chapters. All chapters are increasingly emphasizing inclusion of women and minorities, as well as Fellows representing different surgical subspecialties, when selecting ACS Governors, Council Members, and Officers.

The International Governors are currently represented under the umbrella of the GCCR as the International Affairs Subcommittee; however, due to their recent growth and increased visibility, they will soon be organized into the Chapter Activities International Workgroup. Ray Price, MD, FACS, a general surgeon from Murray, UT, currently chairs the subcommittee and will lead the workgroup as well. Both the national and the international workgroups will be part of the Member Services pillar of the Governors’ new organizational structure under the leadership of Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, Director of the ACS Division of Member Services, working with Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, FACS, and will be composed almost exclusively of Governors. During last year’s committee meeting the GCCR voted unanimously to include a volunteer group of Chapter Executives as consultant members of the committee, reflecting the close partnership that exists between chapter leaders and their management teams.


The Advocacy and Coalitions Subcommittee, chaired by David McAneny, MD, FACS, associate professor of surgery, Boston University School of Medicine, continued its charge to provide synergy to national advocacy efforts through review of grants from state chapters participating in the ACS Chapter Advocacy Grant Program. The College provided $35,000 in Lobby Day funding grants, an average of $2,200 per grant, to state chapters for advocacy efforts. Participating chapters included Alabama, Northern California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois and Metro Chicago, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Virginia.

At press time, plans were under way to launch a grassroots advocacy program through which Fellows will regularly visit their U.S. legislators and congressional staff in their district offices. The Massachusetts Chapter of the ACS is working with the Division of Advocacy and Health Policy to begin pilot testing the plan. Details will be published in the Bulletin.

This subcommittee also assisted in reviewing and selecting recipients of the Arthur Ellenberger Award for Excellence in State Advocacy. This award is named for Art Ellenberger, the longtime, now-retired Executive Director of the New Jersey Chapter and expert in grassroots and advocacy. The award is presented to “recognize a career of outstanding leadership and distinguished service and commitment to protecting patients’ access to high-quality surgical care by their involvement with their state’s legislative regulatory process.” The Advocacy and Coalitions Subcommittee provided recommendations to the final selection committee. In 2012, John Maa, MD, FACS, a general surgeon in San Francisco, CA, received the Ellenberger Award in recognition of his work in state advocacy with the Northern California Chapter.

Best practices

Each year at Clinical Congress, ACS chapter leaders from Maine to Hawaii convene to discuss what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making their chapters successful. The event is a must-attend meeting for incoming officers of state chapters and those interested in chairing committees within the chapter. In years past, the meeting was called the Chapter Showcase, but it was recently renamed Best Practices to Keep Chapters Running Smoothly.

The 2012 Best Practices session focused on four specific aspects of chapter administration:

  • Managing the chapter’s finances
  • Encouraging residents’ involvement
  • Providing self-assessment continuing medical education (CME) programming at chapter meetings
  • Engaging in strategic planning

A brief synopsis is provided here, but the presentations in their entirety may be found on the ACS website.

Financial management. Running a state chapter is much like running a small business. Some chapters are of a sufficient size that a professional management firm is paid to conduct the day-to-day business of the chapter, which may include the collection of dues, planning of executive committee and council meetings, and so on. Larger chapters with a diverse range of activities may have robust operating budgets and host large annual meetings, which may translate into a significant number of financial transactions. Keeping up with this complexity requires some basic accounting and financial management skills.

Resident involvement. Astute chapter leaders recognize the value of recruiting members into the College early, and surgical residency is an excellent place to start. Most chapters and the College itself provide significant financial relief for residents to attend annual chapter meetings. Popular resident sessions, such as Surgical Jeopardy and resident paper competitions, also serve to promote another source of scholarship support that surgeons in training may pursue.

Self-assessment CME. Most medical and surgical boards now require that a certain percentage of CME credits obtained to satisfy Maintenance of Certification requirements involve self-assessment activities (SA CME). In other words, it is no longer sufficient to sign in to a lecture, listen, and return home. The activity must involve an assessment of the attendee’s comprehension of the material presented. Self-assessment may take place in the form of a written or electronic question-and-answer exercise that assesses the surgeon’s understanding of the material presented in the CME program—most commonly a short test following the presentation. Many chapters have incorporated SA CME into their annual meetings and there are a few details that must be attended to in this regard, such as guidelines regarding question format and the availability of online testing.

Strategic planning. A formal planning process to identify the mission of any organization is central to its success. Many large corporations regularly involve several levels of the organization in the process of strategic planning. Since chapters vary widely depending on their geographic location, size, and make-up, the strategic planning process can be tailored to have maximal effect to achieve the goals of the chapter.

Each ACS chapter has a core mission and carries out activities that are specific to its mission. Some chapters are heavily involved in advocacy, retaining lobbyists for legislative efforts at the state level; others work through their state medical societies to achieve this goal. A number of chapters offer high-quality annual meetings that feature authoritative speakers on surgical, legislative, and other topics. The organization and planning of a state chapter meeting is a significant undertaking. Attendees at the 2012 Best Practices to Keep Chapters Running Smoothly session in Chicago, IL, suggested that the 2013 session include a presentation on the crucial factors leading to a successful annual meeting of a chapter. A session on planning annual meetings will be presented at 2:30 pm on Tuesday, October 8, at the 2013 Clinical Congress in Washington, DC, along with another session focusing on the Chapter Performance Checklist.

Promoting ACS goals and mission

A key component of a chapter’s success rests in part in its ability to mirror the activities of the College. For example, chapters that have councils composed of Fellows who are involved in the Commission on Cancer, the Committee on Trauma, and other key College programs, such as the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program®, tend to have a depth and breadth of activity in these areas that spills over into the entire chapter membership.

One way a chapter may assess how well it is doing in terms of fulfilling the goals and objectives of the College is through thoughtful completion of the Chapter Performance Checklist. Far from a report card on chapter activities, this field guide to success was developed more than a decade ago by what will soon become the Chapter Activities National Workgroup under the Board of Governors’ redesign. The checklist is useful in helping chapters to identify activities that will better serve its members while maintaining the focus of the overall mission of the College.

Time of transition

As the Board of Governors redesign progresses, the GCCR will transition into the Chapter Activities National Workgroup, renewed and re-invigorated to provide state chapters with the resources they need to be successful. The Chapter Activities International Workgroup will be given additional visibility, and we can undoubtedly expect our international surgical colleagues to offer great ideas and projects that will increase the College’s stature throughout the world. The chapter representation on the Health Policy and Advocacy Group will certainly strengthen the ties between national and state advocacy efforts. Governors interested in serving the College by improving their state chapters are encouraged to get involved in the endeavors of these evolving groups of extraordinary College leaders.

Members of the Governors’ Committee on Chapter Relations

Renamed: Chapter Activities (Domestic) Workgroup

John P. Rioux, MD, FACS, Chair

Samual Robert Todd, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair

John H. Armstrong, MD, FACS

Miguel Angel Cainzos, MD, FACS

Gregory Spicer Cherr, MD, FACS

David W. Dexter, MD, FACS

Stephen Edmund Ettinghausen, MD, FACS

Daniel S. Johnson, MD, FACS

Matthew B. Martin, MD, FACS

Eric Zenko Matayoshi, MD, FACS

David B. McAneny MD, FACS

Raymond R. Price, MD, FACS

Gary L. Timmerman, MD, FACS

Bruce J. Waring, MD, FACS

Chapter Activities (International) Workgroup

Quyen D. Chu, MD, FACS

Jamal J. Hoballah, MD, FACS

Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, FACS


ACS Division of Member Services

Patricia L. Turner MD, FACS, Director

Mark Chou

Jamie Kazay

Donna Tieberg

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