On behalf of the Board of Regents and Officers of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), it is my distinct honor to invite you to the virtual ACS Clinical Congress 2020 and to remind you to register today. This year, the Clinical Congress is being offered free of charge and completely online as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As COVID-19 swept the nation in March, few of us imagined that it ultimately would affect how we present the College’s largest annual meeting. As it became more evident that the pandemic would wear on, affecting attendees’ ability to travel by air and to congregate in large groups at convention centers and hotels, the leadership of the organization determined it would no longer to host the Clinical Congress as a live event in our headquarters city, Chicago, to ensure the health and safety of attendees, staff, exhibitors, and potentially your patients.
The ACS leadership also agreed to present the conference at no charge to all registrants. This decision was made in acknowledgment of the financial hardships many surgical practices are experiencing in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Each day from October 3 to 7, educational programming will run from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Central Daylight Time. The Program includes 10 Named Lectures; 66 Panel Sessions; three Special Interest Sessions, including the Symposium of the ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators; Scientific Forum Sessions on Saturday and Sunday; Video-Based Education Sessions; and Meet-the-Expert Sessions. Didactic Courses, Skills Courses, and Town Halls will not be offered this year.
The sessions on Saturday and Sunday address the needs of surgical residents and medical students. Recordings of the entire program of Clinical Congress 2020 will be available for a period of time after the Congress. The Clinical Congress Program should help in addressing specific educational needs based on individual surgical practices, interests, and evolving regulatory requirements.
The ACS has decided to offer the virtual 2020 Clinical Congress at no cost to the registrants. We encourage you to take full advantage of this outstanding educational opportunity!
Although a different format than usual, this year’s Clinical Congress upholds the tradition of providing opportunities for surgeons, surgery residents, medical students, nurses, anesthesiologists, and other health care professionals who provide care to surgical patients to attain the knowledge and skills they need to provide optimal care. Thousands of surgeons, other physicians, allied health care professionals, exhibitors, invited guests, staff, and other stakeholders from more than 125 countries are expected to participate in this year’s Clinical Congress.
A highlight of each Clinical Congress is the Convocation, which will take place virtually 6:00−8:00 pm Sunday night, October 4. At this event, we will welcome new ACS Fellows and install the new Officers of the College. This year, more than 2,200 Initiates will be conferred Fellowship in the ACS, and we will recognize Fellows who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries of ACS Fellowship, as well as Fellows who have passed away this year.
At the Convocation, we also will recognize nine Honorary Fellows and present the Distinguished Service Award—the College’s highest honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award, the Distinguished Military Lifetime Achievement Award, and the second Resident and Associate Society Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award. In addition, I will pass the Presidential Medallion and Gavel to J. Wayne Meredith, MD, FACS, and the incoming First and Second Vice-Presidents, H. Randolph Bailey, MD, FACS, FASCRS, and Lisa A. Newman, MD, MPH, FACS, FASCO, will assume their new roles.
The Opening Ceremony, the traditional official start of the Clinical Congress, begins at 9:00 am CDT Monday, October 5. Immediately following the Opening Ceremony, Norman E. Sharpless, MD, Director of the National Cancer Institute, will deliver the Martin Memorial Lecture. The title of his address is Assuring Progress in Cancer Research during Challenging Times.
The Program Committee—under the leadership of Henri R. Ford, MD, MHA, FACS, FAAP, FRCSEng(Hon), Chair, and M. Timothy Nelson, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair—has developed an impressive program.
The Scientific Forum will feature oral presentations of outstanding scholarly work by surgical investigators, and all scientific posters are submitted and available for viewing electronically on any mobile device or computer throughout the entire Clinical Congress. Continuing Medical Education credit is provided for e-Poster Rounds, as well as the session on Late-Breaking Clinical Trials. The Surgical Forum Committee selected clinical trials that have the potential to change practice and improve patient care for presentation Monday at 9:45 am.
I anticipate that you will find the Clinical Congress invaluable in your effort to attain Continuing Medical Education Credits and meet regulatory and institutional mandates. The ACS designates this live activity for more than 200 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Self-Assessment Credits will be available for most Panel Sessions and Video-Based Education Sessions. I hope you will claim your share this year.
Make the most of your Clinical Congress experience by visiting the virtual ACS Central. This venue provides opportunities to meet with staff and learn about the latest ACS products and programs.
Be sure to visit the Technical Exhibits as well, where you can get a look at the latest products and services available to you, your institutions, and your practices.
The Clinical Congress continues to represent the gold standard in surgical education. Although many of us are disappointed we will not be able to reconnect with old friends and make new ones in-person, we anticipate this event will satisfy many of your interests. I thank the surgeon volunteers and staff who have worked tirelessly to make this exceptional event possible and extend to each attendee my best wishes for a memorable Clinical Congress experience. Register today, and “see you” there!
Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS
2019−2020 ACS President