The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Division of Member Services offers two key platforms that allow members to engage with their colleagues and the organization at the local and global levels. This month’s column focuses on the value of joining your local ACS chapter and of participating in Operation Giving Back (OGB), which can provide you with opportunities to share your skills and experience with patients in need.
The value of joining your local chapter
The ACS has 111 chapters around the world, presenting many opportunities for ACS members to actively engage at the local level. Of these 111 chapters, 67 are domestic chapters, meaning they serve surgeons in the U.S. and Canada; the remaining 44 chapters are in as many countries. ACS chapters share and support the mission of the College, which is “dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.”
According to Patricia L. Turner, MD, FACS, Director, ACS Division of Members Services, “The first chapters of the American College of Surgeons were chartered in the early 1950s, and they continue to be an integral part of the College’s fabric. Local chapters are dedicated to providing ACS members with outstanding educational programming, social events, and networking opportunities, along with professional development through chapter meetings, advocacy efforts, community outreach, and engagement with the next generation of surgeons.”
ACS chapters offer a forum for all members—from every surgical specialty—to communicate and promote the objectives of the College and to support colleagues in practice. Following are some of the benefits that chapters provide to their members:
- Networking opportunities that enable members to build strong professional relationships with surgical peers
- Opportunities to participate in advocacy activities that affect surgical practices and patients at the state and federal levels
- Convenient educational meetings and local opportunities to earn Continuing Medical Education credits
- Opportunities to serve on the chapter council, which may translate to future leadership roles within the College
- Occasions to give back to the profession through volunteerism, both domestically and internationally
- A meeting ground for all surgical specialties to discuss common problems, shared surgical interests, and ways to complement one another’s efforts to improve the quality of care
- A forum to engage and mentor young surgeons, trainees, and medical students
Contact your local chapter to learn more about getting involved. Visit the Find a Chapter web page for information about how to join your ACS chapter, or contact Luke Moreau at firstname.lastname@example.org for details about domestic chapters and Brian Frankel at email@example.com for more information about international chapters.
Engage with OGB
OGB is the volunteer arm of the ACS. The mission of OGB is to leverage the passion, skills, and humanitarian ethos of the surgical community to effectively meet the needs of medically underserved populations here in our backyards and around the globe. The program’s objective is to serve as a comprehensive resource for those ACS members who want to volunteer their time and talent.
Connecting volunteers, partners, and opportunities
According to a survey conducted by the ACS Division of Member Services in 2015, approximately 50 percent of ACS members are interested in volunteering their services. Volunteerism opportunities are regularly posted and updated online. Since the launch of the new OGB website, we have continued to connect volunteers to opportunities. If you are a Fellow of the College who is interested in volunteerism or an organization who wants to partner with OGB, log into the Volunteer and Partner Portal to register (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Volunteer and Partner Portal
Engage in disaster relief efforts
From the Volunteer and Partner Portal, you can sign up for a comprehensive disaster registry. In the event of a disaster, we anticipate reaching out for help to members who are listed in this registry. The database is modeled on the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma registry (see Figure 2).
Figure 2. Disaster Registry
The resource center provides access to tools to help volunteers prepare prior to deployment with information on travel, visa, culture, and more. Explore our tools to help you better address your needs throughout your volunteerism endeavors (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Resource Center
ACS Volunteer Community
The volunteer community is an online service created to provide an opportunity to network, ask questions, and provide advice. The volunteer community has more than 221 members.
OGB future directions
With the formation of the Committee on Global Engagement through OGB and its four subcommittees focused on Advocacy, Domestic Volunteerism, International Volunteerism, and Education, OGB has propelled existing activities and redefined future directions to assist those surgeons who want to volunteer. Programmatic highlights include the following:
- The Case for Global Surgery Consortia: Provide a platform for global surgery programs to join hands in delivering surgical care and workforce development. OGB encourages academic surgical programs to participate in this effort.
- Preparing ACS Fellows for Global Engagement: Most fellows and residents report the need for global engagement training. At the 2016 Clinical Congress, OGB offered an inaugural didactic course on Global Health Competencies for surgeons. This course will be provided at this year’s Clinical Congress in conjunction with a surgical skills course for providing care in low-resource settings.
Recognizing the need for enhanced, sustainable, and coordinated domestic volunteerism efforts, OGB continues to work toward developing a comprehensive database of free surgical access clinics. If you or your colleagues are engaged in domestic volunteerism, OGB would like to hear from you.
Through targeted partnerships across the globe, OGB is expanding our reach to enhance workforce development and build sustainable surgical capacity.
Within the College of Surgeons of East Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) and West African College of Surgeons (WACS) regions, OGB is collaborating with leadership to create sustainable solutions to the surgical workforce deficit. This year, COSECSA leadership worked with the OGB leadership to identify potential sites for collaboration within the region. After conducting a needs assessment and capacity survey, three sites have been selected for further review. Additionally, because of the shortage of surgeons within the COSECSA region, OGB, with generous support from the ACS and other partners, provides scholarships to support women in surgical residency in addition to leadership training at the ACS Surgeons as Leaders course. Opportunities to participate in the Surgeons as Leaders Course were provided and will continue to be offered for the next several years to COSECSA leadership. Looking forward, OGB hopes to define the logistics needed for an ACS hub, which will be used to further workforce development.
OGB also participates in meetings throughout the year that further foster partnership opportunities. This year, OGB participated in conferences convened by the WACS annual conference, Pan-African Association of Surgeons, and International College of Surgeons, as well as a joint session with COSECSA at the annual meeting of the World Health Organization annual meeting and Consortium of Universities for Global Health.
The College is committed to providing opportunities for members to engage at the local level, to advance their professional careers, and to encourage its members to improve the care of surgical patients around the world. For more information about the ACS chapter in your area or country, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For details about Operation Giving Back, contact email@example.com.