The American College of Surgeons (ACS) offers members many diverse opportunities for engagement and leadership development in the areas of advocacy, education, and quality care in surgery. In the Panel Session Getting Involved with ACS: Why and How, available Saturday, October 23, at 2:00 pm Central Time, presenters will identify pathways for pursuing engagement opportunities within the College. Nicolas J. Mouawad, MD, FACS, and Raphael C. Sun, MD, will moderate the session involving 10 panelists offering a variety of perspectives on ACS member engagement, including opportunities for medical students, residents, and surgeons at all stages of their careers.
“Of the 1,258 who graduate general surgery residency, approximately 1,028 become board-certified surgeons each year,” says Christopher DuCoin, MD, MPH, FACS, Chair of the ACS Young Fellows Association Communications Committee. “It is a paved path, it is well laid out, it is unique and special,” he says, describing the effort involved in becoming a surgeon. “If you’re here, realize all the work you did to get to this point, and take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the College.”
According to Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS, FCCM, the College provides mentorship and educational opportunities that allow members to “empower others and themselves,” noting that “leadership is a decision, not a title.” To become actively involved with the College, she advises surgeons to do the following: be present, volunteer, follow up and follow through, and be willing to give your time to a project or initiative. Dr. Ferrada says the FACS designation gives members a sense of authority and lets others know that you have clinical acumen and surgical expertise.
Amalia Stefanou, MD, FACS, incoming ACS Young Fellows Association Chair, says in this role she will focus on mid-career surgeons (eight to 15 years out of training) because there are a “lot of career and life pivots that can occur at this time.” Dr. Stefanou’s top five tips for getting involved in the ACS:
- Pay attention to e-mail and social media
- Enthusiastically volunteer for a workgroup or other projects
- Attend conference calls and virtual meetings
- Show up to in-person meetings when they are available
- Reach out to leaders for advice and suggestions for engagement
John H. Stewart, IV, MD, MBA, FACS, Chair of the ACS Advisory Council Chairs, highlights opportunities for leadership in the House of Surgery by pursuing involvement in one of the 14 ACS Advisory Councils. Dr. Stewart outlines the myriad activities that Advisory Council members perform, including contributing to the weekly Bulletin Brief, providing nominations to specialty boards, offering recommendations for awards and honorary fellowships, and submitting proposals for sessions at Clinical Congress. In 2021, the Advisory Councils submitted a total of 139 proposals to the Program Committee, and 69 of them were accepted.
Dr. Stewart also summarizes the Advisory Councils Engagement Plan for 2021, which he says includes creating an organized member recruitment campaign, enhancing Advisory Council involvement in retention of specialty members, sharing knowledge with international colleagues, reviewing the current state of councils at Advisory Council Chairs meetings, and creating a roadmap for strategic and operational improvements.
Kenneth W. Sharp, MD, FACS, member of the ACS Board of Regents, outlines several benefits of College membership, which he organizes into categories, including collegiality, education, advocacy, and inspiration.
“Getting to know other surgeons is one of the most enjoyable aspects of my career in the College. We share techniques, criticism, and we have a lot of fun doing it,” Dr. Sharp says. He describes the College as an “irreplaceable” component to his satisfaction with his surgical career.
“It has an enormous amount to offer you, and I think you can all benefit from a tremendous number of different activities within the College,” Dr. Sharp says, noting that the state chapters, Clinical Congress, and online Communities are valuable gateways to involvement.
This and other Clinical Congress sessions are available to registered attendees for on-demand viewing for a full year on the virtual meeting platform.