COT hosts Mentoring Day for Future Trauma Leaders

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Committee on Trauma (COT) leadership hosted a Mentoring Day on October 17 in Chicago, IL, providing an opportunity for in-person engagement with residents and early-career surgeons who are pursuing careers in trauma surgery. The younger participants were all part of the Mentoring for Excellence in Trauma Surgery (METS) program that the COT established in 2015.

The METS program includes participants in the Future Trauma Leaders (FTL) program, liaisons from the ACS Resident and Associate Society and Young Fellows Association, and the COT’s Firearm Injury Prevention Clinical Scholar. The purpose of the COT’s FTL program is to provide an opportunity for extensive training, mentoring, and participation for early-career trauma and acute care surgeons in all activities of the COT. Four FTLs are chosen annually after an extensive application process. In 2022, the number will increase to five, including a dedicated position for an active-duty military surgeon supported by generous donations. METS participants are paired with a mentor and assigned to research, quality improvement, injury prevention, advocacy, or education projects in their areas of interest within the COT and work within appointed COT committees over the two-year period.

Leonard J. Weireter, Jr., MD, FACS (standing), discusses trauma leadership with Mentoring Day participants

Meetings and activities that had been planned for the METS participants have been significantly disrupted over the last 18 months because of the coronavirus 2019 pandemic. Despite the challenges, the METS participants have prevailed in their involvement, including advancement of ACS Trauma Quality Program Best Practices Guidelines, revisions of trauma educational courses, and submission of white papers to support trauma advocacy efforts, as well as development and pursuit of research agendas in violence prevention. Yet mentoring opportunities and networking have clearly been limited by the exclusively online meetings in the last year and a half, including the spring and fall COT meetings, the Leadership & Advocacy Summit, and the ACS Trauma Quality Improvement Program Annual Conference. The terms of the current FTLs were extended to accommodate these challenges.

Mentoring Day

To support METS participants and make up for the lost opportunities for in-person networking, the COT Executive Committee hosted the special Mentoring Day. Nearly all METS participants from the last three years were able to attend. After welcoming remarks from COT Chair Eileen M. Bulger, MD, FACS, who coordinated the day’s activities, the day began with a competitive marshmallow tower ice breaker requiring cooperation and demonstrating significant ingenuity on the part of participants. Leonard J. Weireter, MD, FACS, then gave a pragmatic presentation on Trauma Leadership.

Next was a series of 10-minute speed mentoring sessions, during which all METS participants rotated between tables, asking the mentors questions that they had prepared in advance. After lunch, presenters discussed challenges in becoming a leader in five subject areas with the following trauma leaders: Lillian S. Kao, MD, FACS, COT Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Workgroup (quality); Jeffrey D. Kerby, MD, PhD, FACS, Chair, COT Membership Committee and incoming COT Chair (local trauma centers); Ronald M. Stewart, MD, FACS, Medical Director, ACS Trauma Programs (trauma systems development); John H. Armstrong, MD, FACS, COT Advocacy Chair (advocacy); and Dany Westerband, MD, FACS, incoming Advanced Trauma Life Support® Global Program Director (education).

Dr. Jacobs (right, standing) engages with METS participants and faculty in a tower-building ice breaker challenge

The afternoon concluded with small group roundtable discussions on these topics. The day finished in an outstanding and memorable fashion with the opportunity to hear Lenworth M. Jacobs. Jr., MD, MPH, FACS, FWACS(Hon), Medical Director, STOP THE BLEED®, presenting the Scudder Oration, followed by a celebratory dinner at which METS participants completing the program were awarded certificates.

Participant reactions

For some of the METS participants, this day was the first time they met their mentors and colleagues in-person, despite much time previously spent on online meetings and conference calls. Participant comments included the following:

  • “Today was phenomenal. First in-person meeting in nearly two years. It was wonderful talking with colleagues and having the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the trauma leaders of our nation. Every question I had was thoroughly answered with clear and concise direction on how to effect positive change in our trauma system. I am leaving feeling motivated and encouraged to lead in this space.”
  • “Meeting so many leaders in trauma who truly are invested in our success. They really are committed to our careers—that we are the future of trauma.”
  • “Getting one-on-one advice from the national leaders in our field. I felt that I got three years of networking and wisdom over the course of one afternoon.”

When asked about something that they had learned from the day, participants responded as follows:

  • “Long-term impact requires passion, patience, and perseverance.”
  • “Obstacles and failures are the norm. How you respond to them is what defines you as a leader.”
  • “I learned that so many people are there to support all of us who are early in our career and still developing ourselves into our best selves.”
  • “Focus on an impactful task every day.”
  • “On your hardest day, remember why we do this: For the care of the injured patient.”

Mentoring Day participants, including Dr. Jacobs (back row, fourth from left), as well as coauthors of this article—Krista L. Kaups, MD, MSc, FACS (seated, second from left); Dr. Bulger (seated, holding sign); and Dr. Kerby (seated, third from left)

Thanks to the considerable efforts of the COT leadership, support from ACS leadership, and the essential and ongoing work of the ACS staff, the day was a tremendous success, energizing the participants and developing networks of support. In fact, the day was so successful that the COT leadership have committed to continuing this new tradition for future METS participants.

The METS program is developing the surgeons who are emerging leaders in the field, and we are proud to welcome them as colleagues. As we embark upon the centennial year for the COT in 2022, we welcome your support of the METS program through our FTL100 Campaign (donate at facs.org/ftl100) as we work together in transforming trauma care for optimal outcomes.

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