ACS Communities celebrates fifth anniversary

The American College of Surgeons’ members-only networking platform, ACS Communities, has been in place for five years and continues to be a popular member benefit. Since its launch in 2014, the platform has received nearly 4.2 million pageviews, and more than 35,000 members of the College have agreed to the site’s terms of use. Under the leadership of Tyler G. Hughes, MD, FACS, Editor-in-Chief, ACS Communities has become the go-to place for members of the College who want to collaborate with their peers, and the number of members who read the community e-mails continues to increase. More than 123 communities cover a variety of interest areas.

College members have had a lot to discuss in 2019. From gender equity, to family members in the hospital, to surprise billing legislation, to health care access, to gender reassignment surgery, to surgeon replacements, members’ far-ranging interests are evident. As anyone who follows the communities can attest, ACS members are confident about expressing their opinions in this secure environment provided by the College. The occasional “lighter” thread is posted as well; for example, snakes in the emergency room and members’ embarrassing moments.

Each month, the top 10 “hot threads” are published in ACS NewsScope and on the College’s public website to show members what is being discussed. By far, the most active community is the General Surgery community, which includes nonclinical as well as clinical posts.

To accommodate different needs, both closed and open communities exist in ACS Communities. Any member of the College may join or leave an open community as desired, while closed communities exist primarily to provide online work forums for ACS leadership groups, such as the Board of Governors and the Advisory Councils. In all, site visitors have posted more than 93,000 discussion group posts and viewed library items 155,000 times.

Open communities are available for surgical specialty groups, such as General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery; subspecialty groups, such as Breast Surgery, Bariatric Surgery; demographic groups, such as Rural Surgery, Women Surgeons; areas of special interest, such as Surgeon Writers, Diversity; and ACS chapters, such as the Indiana Chapter and the Northern California Chapter. Of the top 20 most active communities, all but one (Board of Regents and Board of Governors) are open communities. The five most active communities are General Surgery, Breast Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Rural Surgery, and Women Surgeons.

Closed communities are used by leadership groups, Advisory Councils, committees, committee chairs, workgroups, forums, and collaboratives. As with open communities, these communities also feature libraries for storing documents, spreadsheets, video, and audio files. These forums are especially useful for groups with members who serve terms, as new members are able to view past work and get up to speed quickly. The top five most active closed communities are BoR and BoG, Advisory Council for Rural Surgery, Commission on Cancer State Chairs, Accredited Education Institutes, and Chapter Executives and Administrators.

With the ACS Communities App, you can access discussions instantly from anywhere, as well as navigate through your communities and discussions, review and respond to the most recent posts, and update your profile information. The app provides access to thousands of members of the ACS from your mobile device, and you can build your own network of contacts by adding individuals to your personal contacts for easy lookup. The free ACS Communities App is available at iTunes and Google Play—just search for the “MemberCentric” app and install it on your device.

You can use ACS Communities to expand your network and increase your networking skills. Under the “My Connections” tab in your profile, click “Networks.” From there, simply click on any of your academic appointments, areas of clinical concentration, jobs, schools, societies, and so on to discover which of your fellow members share those networks. When you see someone you know or someone with whom you would like to connect professionally, click the “Send Message” or “Add as Contact” button. You have the option of viewing his or her profile before you do that.

It’s easy to join communities! Just log in at (if you have not specified otherwise in the College’s records, the default username is your eight-digit member ID, and the default password is your last name), click “Communities” and then “All Communities” near the top of any page, and click the “Join” button next to the community you want to join. Ask a question or start a conversation!