Specialty societies provide surgeons in training with opportunities to expand their knowledge and clinical expertise through their training. Residency programs have a long checklist of knowledge and skills training they must provide to their trainees, yet somewhere along the way, the enrichment related to networking and career building gets lost. The Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS) is a specialty organization for residents and recent graduates that connects them to people and projects specifically for young surgeons. These opportunities help residents develop professionally as they progress through their training and early years in practice.
The RAS-ACS assists residents who want to attain skills pertaining to advocacy, health policy, leadership, global health, and career planning. It allows for networking and camaraderie, both of which are essential for professional development. This camaraderie fosters a kinship among residents whose common goal of surgical excellence attracts them to this profession. The challenge lies in attracting residents in the surgical specialties, such as residents in obstetrics and gynecology, otolaryngology−head and neck surgery, urology, and so on. These residents likely find their own specialty organizations provide much of the support they need, but they also would benefit from the extensive resources offered by the College.
Obstetricians-gynecologists (OB-GYNs) have been an integral part of the ACS since its founding more than 105 years ago. In fact, the College’s founder, Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, chose the name Surgery, Gynecology & Obstetrics (now known as the Journal of the American College of Surgeons) for the organization’s clinical publication. OB-GYN residents are an important part of the ACS legacy and should be encouraged to be active participants in the largest and preeminent surgical association in the world.
Expanding involvement of OB-GYN residents in RAS
The ACS Advisory Council for Obstetrics and Gynecology noted the void in OB-GYN resident involvement in RAS, and despite multiple efforts in the past, was unable to increase membership. At the 2019 Leadership & Advocacy Summit, the OB-GYN advisory council proposed a systematic effort to increase OB-GYN residents’ interest in ACS. In the past, the program directors had been contacted through mail with little to no response. This year, the Resident Liaison on the advisory council and co-author of this article, Sonia Bhandari Randhawa, MD, paired with ACS Regent Enrique Hernandez, MD, FACS, FACOG, a member of the advisory council and a coauthor of this article, in an effort to significantly increase OB-GYN resident involvement in the ACS.
The goal was to form a Pennsylvania OB-GYN Resident Committee under the ACS to help residents learn about and take advantage of the resources that the ACS has to offer, including leadership, advocacy, and surgical skills training, as well as networking opportunities. The authors started by reaching out to each of the 16 Pennsylvania residency program directors and coordinators, asking each program to nominate a resident to the committee. The purpose of the request was to give the program directors a chance to select a resident who was most interested in the surgical aspects of OB-GYN and, in turn, will carry their ACS membership throughout their career. Some programs were eager early on, whereas others needed to be contacted directly by an ACS Regent who knows the leaders of the programs. Our persistence eventually led to 15 of the 16 programs expressing interest in the project and nominating one to two residents per program.
The RAS-ACS is a specialty organization for residents and recent graduates that connects them to people and projects specifically for young surgeons.
Once we had representatives from most OB-GYN residency programs across the state, we hosted a welcome dinner for the selected residents where they learned about the ACS and the resources it has to offer them and about the goals of our committee. We had a significant turnout at the dinner and positive responses from the residents nominated to become ACS members.
We asked these residents to take back to their programs what they learned about the College and to encourage their fellow residents to join the organization; to select a junior resident in their program who would continue in this role after the initial group graduated; and to participate in a statewide service project for residents to lead a sanitary supply drive for a women’s shelter in their community.
We are looking forward to this group of residents becoming actively involved in the RAS-ACS and in the Pennsylvania ACS chapters’ (Keystone, Metropolitan, Northwestern, and Southwestern) activities.