After three years, ACS Communities going strong

Three years after the launch of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Communities, the members-only networking and collaboration platform shows no signs of slowing down. As of August, ACS Communities, under the leadership of Tyler G. Hughes, MD, FACS, Editor-in-Chief, had received nearly 2.8 million page views and 27,745 members of the College had agreed to the site’s terms of use. At press time, there were 115 communities in ACS Communities, and the number of members who read the daily digest e-mails was on the rise.

Open and closed Communities

To accommodate different needs, both closed and open communities exist in ACS Communities. Any member of the ACS may join or leave an open community, whereas closed communities exist primarily to provide online work forums for ACS leadership groups, such as the Board of Regents and Board of Governors (BoR and BoG) and the Advisory Councils. In all, more than 450,000 discussion group posts have been written, and more than 85,000 library entries have been viewed.

Open communities are available for surgical specialty groups (for example, General Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Vascular Surgery); subspecialty groups (such as Breast Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, and Minimally Invasive Surgery); demographic groups (Rural Surgery, Women Surgeons, Senior Surgeons); areas of special interest (Surgeon Writers, Diversity, Surgical Palliative Care, and so on), and ACS chapters. Of the 20 most active communities, all but one, BoR and BoG, are open communities. The five most active communities are General Surgery, Breast Surgery, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Bariatric Surgery, and Rural Surgery. By far, the most active community is the General Surgery community. Because of its size, the General Surgery community includes nonclinical and clinical posts, which is natural for a community that has more than 22,000 members.

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

What members are saying

From clinical topics to advocacy to music in the operating room to Maintenance of Certification (MOC), College members have had a lot to talk about since last year’s Clinical Congress. Discussion threads started since last year’s meeting garnered approximately 13,000 total replies, and more than 3,700 of those posts were recommended by others. Library entries were viewed more than 27,000 times during the same period, and nearly 700,000 web pages were viewed.

Top discussions during the last year include posts on misidentification of appendix, MOC, robotics in general surgery, legal cases, massive bleeding during laparoscopic cholecystectomy, reimbursement for sicker patients, surgical caps, leasing versus buying a car, common bile duct stones, and more. As sometimes happens with large communities, those with strong interests in a topic branch off to start new communities, as was the case when a group of surgeon writers wanted its own community. The Surgeon Writers community thrives today, and the number of those interested in that topic continues to grow.

More than discussions

There’s more to ACS Communities than discussions and community libraries. You also can use ACS Communities to expand your network and improve your networking skills. Under the “My Connections” tab in your profile, click “Networks.” Then, 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.

There’s a robust search tool in ACS Communities to help you quickly and easily find what you are looking for. To search for information on any topic, simply log in to ACS Communities and use the search box on the home page. Results can be sorted alphabetically, by date, or by relevance. An advanced search feature is also available to help you locate items of interest.

Log in and check out ACS Communities while you are at Clinical Congress, especially if you have never logged in before. It’s a great way to stay in touch with colleagues, keep up with your networks, and connect the dots between important meetings.

To learn more about ACS Communities, visit the Publications and Online Resources area in ACS Central, San Diego Convention Center, Exhibit Hall.