ACS releases Optimal Resources for Surgical Education and Training, the “Gold Book”

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) has released a new manual, Optimal Resources for Surgical Education and Training, otherwise known as the “Gold Book,” to become the definitive guide to training future surgeons.

The Gold Book serves as an authoritative reference for leaders in surgical education, as well as a road map for residency training programs to ensure excellence in the education and training of surgery residents. Experts contributed to every chapter, creating a comprehensive overview of each aspect of surgical education. The book covers the fundamental theoretical constructs and addresses the educational and practical resources needed to train surgical residents and was written for surgical faculty and leadership, professional educators, hospital administrators, surgical residents, and anyone involved in surgical resident education and training.

“Residency training in surgery has undergone monumental changes over the last several decades. The environment of health care in which surgery training is embedded has continued to evolve, new regulations and mandates have constantly impacted residency training, and advances in the science and practice of surgical education have progressed at an unprecedented pace,” said Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, FSACME, MAMSE, Director, ACS Division of Education.

The Gold Book aims to address the challenges of training in a rapidly changing surgical environment, as well as to create a resource to define the optimal way to train residents. Prior to the creation of the Gold Book, there was no common template that defined resources and elements essential to successful surgical training.

Building on a history of expertise

The Gold Book, modeled after the successful ACS Optimal Resources for Surgical Quality and Safety manual published in 2017, describes the necessary resources to administer and evaluate a surgical training program that best prepares residents for future surgical practice. Composed of 14 chapters, the Gold Book provides examples of how a curriculum should be implemented and how specific procedures should be taught and learned. It specifically covers the responsibilities of contemporary surgeons in terms of skill development, professionalism, advocacy, financial health, diversity, and overall well-being.

This book was developed by national leaders in surgical education to comprehensively address the question of required optimal resources in an increasingly complex surgical environment. The Gold Book Steering Committee and an Editorial Oversight Committee developed the outline for the book over the course of a year, identified experts in each area, and invited 72 surgical education leaders from across the U.S. and Canada to collaborate on chapter content specific to their areas of expertise.

The Gold Book serves as an authoritative reference for leaders in surgical education, as well as a roadmap for residency training programs to ensure excellence in the education and training of surgery residents.

“This work puts forth an attempt to define the best way to evaluate and think about surgical training going forward,” said David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, Immediate-Past ACS Executive Director. “We hope this work will find an audience who sees it as a valuable resource that serves as a template for implementation of surgical training in the future.”

The book guides surgery departments on optimal resources needed to educate and train the next generation effectively, such as shared decision-making, defining patient expectations, setting standards, improving quality, using surgical checklists, and focusing on detail to optimize the delivery of surgical care. These principles of care have evolved since the beginning of the ACS, and this manual serves as another milestone in the legacy and history of the College.

Dr. Hoyt, Dr. Sachdeva, Lewis M. Flint, MD, FACS, and J. David Richardson, MD, FACS, served as editors of the Gold Book.

The publication can be purchased online through the ACS website at

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