Executive Director’s update: Building together for a stronger future

Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACSI decided early in my life to become a surgeon—at the age of six, while still in the first grade to be exact. I had dissected a frog from my mother’s classroom, while sitting on our back stoop. She was a career-long math and science teacher in a public junior high school in Washington, DC, and instilled in me a love for the subjects she taught and a deep-seated respect for education.

That choice I made in first grade ultimately led to a surgical career at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, where I became immersed in innovative procedures using the newest technologies, conducted bench and clinical research, and began training the next generation of surgeons.

As my surgical career evolved, I was offered a leadership role within the American College of Surgeons—the House of Surgery that represents all surgical specialties and advocates fearlessly for patients everywhere. It was an opportunity that meant I could extend the quality patient care that I was providing locally to patients around the world.

I vividly remember my College Convocation—the excitement and pride of joining this great organization and being among colleagues like you. I still feel that pride and excitement today.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with each of you and build upon the ACS’ stellar 108-year legacy. Our organization has a rich history of pioneering work, setting the standards for quality, and developing innovative accreditation, verification, and surgical education programs that have measurably and meaningfully improved health care.

Over the past 12 years, my predecessor, Dr. David B. Hoyt, enhanced that legacy with an unwavering commitment to excellence. His strategic guidance and transformative programs will have a lasting, positive impact on us as surgeons and on the lives of our patients.

I’m grateful to Dr. Hoyt not only for his contributions to the College and the profession, but also for his mentorship over the past decade. While I led the Division of Member Services, Dr. Hoyt allowed me the latitude to listen to all perspectives and empowered me to use creative problem-solving skills as we nurtured and supported surgeons throughout their career life cycles.

The journey ahead

Dr. Hoyt’s observation from his first Bulletin column is as true today as it was a decade ago, “We have many complex and difficult issues facing us, and we have much work to do.” As we build upon yesterday’s foundations, we must also adapt to meet today’s challenges.

So, with that in mind, what’s on our agenda for 2022 and beyond?

Internally, our to-do list runs long. We will:

  • Promote deeper collaboration among all surgeons and include other members of the health care team, where appropriate
  • Maintain the highest standards for surgical education
  • Grow membership across all practice settings and specialties, regardless of age, gender, employment status, or geography
  • Improve our operational efficiency
  • Cultivate a spirit of creativity and innovation
  • Expand leadership opportunities for surgeons in all practice types

Externally, the opportunities are as numerous and compelling. We will:

  • Enhance the ways in which we articulate to lawmakers, the media, and the public at large who we are as surgeons—our professional identities
  • Distinguish popular myths from reality about surgeons
  • Foster greater trust in our already highly respected profession and further strengthen our reputation
  • Conduct vitally needed research
  • Raise our profile across all sectors
  • Highlight how surgeons around the world have performed heroically throughout the pandemic and every day

Above all, our continued mandate will be to ensure that patients always come first—“To Heal All with Skill and Trust.”

Inside and outside the College, we’ll focus on fulfilling our most demanding strategic priorities. These include broadening our organizational influence as advocates for surgeons, patients, and others; adapting nimbly to embrace fast-changing technology and transform surgical education; demonstrating that our concerns extend well beyond simply reimbursement issues; and striving to the utmost for clinical excellence and for the ACS to retain its hard-earned position not only at the forefront of the surgical profession, but also at the forefront of medicine, writ large.

Above all, our continued mandate will be to ensure that patients always come first—“To Heal All with Skill and Trust.”

Stronger together

As we embark on this journey together, I want you to know that your feedback is always welcome. I value your expertise; we are a collective—no ifs, ands, or buts. My door—physical and virtual—is always open. I welcome your phone calls, texts, and e-mails; I value your expertise. We will reach our best decisions when we harness our collective insights and experiences.

As we seek consensus, we should champion each other. The ACS will always represent our surgeon members and the highest ideals of excellent patient care.

In my upcoming columns, I’ll go into detail about how we will add to our storied legacy. I also will address issues ranging from health care policy on Capitol Hill to equity in patient care and surgeon well-being.

Extending care to ourselves

As the pandemic continues to upend hospitals across the country, it is important that we remember to take care of ourselves—do what we can, with the resources we have, to become our best selves inside and outside of the surgical suite.

Easier said than done, I know.

Many of us have taken on additional responsibilities—at home and work—over the past two years. Some of us have experienced loss, while still striving to be strong for those around us. And all this, while reducing our elective surgical practice, because it was the right thing to do.

Yet finding a few moments to balance the sometimes competing needs of our families, friends, responsibilities, and the demands of the career we love is particularly important given what we’re going through. The College has resources on managing stress and reducing burnout. It has networks to offer support and guidance. Please don’t think you have to go through this alone. We’re here for you.

Happy New Year to you, your family, and colleagues. I sincerely hope that your holidays were safe, healthy, and happy.

I’m looking forward to working together with you, and I’m excited about our journey ahead.


Learn more about Dr. Turner as she begins her new role as ACS Executive Director by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BZg4ofLAS-c.


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Radu Constantine, MD FACS DABS

Congratulations, Dr. Turner, on your accomplishments and recognition. We need in the Congress more people like you, that will talk about the gift that our profession means to us, about the love of our trade, without diluting what’s sublime in the ridiculous of today’s society of putting each one of us in different categories, irrespective of our own accomplishments, so that we are politically correct or so that we abide by the trend or fashion of the media or aggressive “militants” on each side of virtual (read nonexistent) barricades separating sexes, colors, politics, etc. We are surgeons. we each account for ourselves. And you proved it! Once again, congratulations!


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