By J. Wayne Meredith, MD, FACS, MCCM, ACS President, 2020−2021
It is my honor and privilege to welcome you to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) Virtual Clinical Congress. The conference is again taking place virtually this year because of safety concerns as new variants of the coronavirus (COVID-19) emerge both in the U.S. and around the world. However, this year’s program will provide a broader array of learning opportunities than we were able to offer last year using the virtual platform, including Postgraduate Didactic and Skills Courses and the Scientific Forum.
I have selected Resilience in the Pursuit of Excellence as this year’s theme. The Program Committee, under the leadership of Henri R. Ford, MD, MHA, FACS, FRCS, FAAP, and the ACS Division of Education, led by Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, FSACME, MAMSE, have developed an outstanding, leading-edge Scientific Program to address critical education and training needs and equip surgeons with the knowledge and skills to achieve the best outcomes in the ever-changing environment of health care.
As in years past, the first two days of the meeting will focus largely on the future practitioners of our profession: medical students and residents. Saturday, October 23, kicks off with the Medical Student Program—a three-hour session featuring leading surgical educators engaged in panel discussions and didactic sessions exploring various lifestyle issues in surgery, decision-making on the path to residency, navigating the residency application process, interviewing successfully, and developing skills as a teacher. Special focus will be placed on the specific ways the COVID-19 pandemic has affected medical education and the residency experience.
On Sunday, October 24, we will kick off the Surgery Resident Program at Clinical Congress: Essential Skills for Surgery Residents. Highlights of the three-hour program include a discussion of contract negotiations, an introduction to the Resident and Associate Society (RAS) of the ACS, personal financial literacy, diversifying the surgical pipeline, and surgical ergonomics. The RAS Symposium will follow Sunday afternoon with the theme Competency-Based Training: A Gateway to Efficiency or a Hurried Sprint to the Finish Line?
Convocation will convene Sunday night, 6:00 pm−8:00 pm Central Time. At this event, we will welcome a record-breaking number of Initiates—2,338 from 83 countries—and install our new Officers. Julie A. Freischlag, MD, FACS, FRCSEd(Hon), DFSVS, will be installed as the 102nd President of the ACS and will deliver her Presidential Address, and we will present awards to esteemed Fellows, including the Distinguished Service Award, the Distinguished Lifetime Military Contribution Award, the RAS Outstanding Mentor of the Year Award, and the Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award. In addition, we will confer Honorary Fellowship on 10 distinguished international surgeons.
The Opening Ceremony will take place Monday morning, October 25, signaling the official start of the educational program of Clinical Congress 2021. Attendees will be introduced to our new President, Dr. Freischlag, and her focus of interest for the coming year, and ACS Executive Director David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, will provide an update on College activities.
We are excited to have Anthony S. Fauci, MD, Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, MD, present the Martin Memorial Lecture immediately after the Opening Ceremony. Dr. Fauci will center his remarks on COVID-19: Lessons Learned and Remaining Challenges.
Last year, we omitted Postgraduate Courses from the Virtual Clinical Congress in order to offer all content free of charge. This year, we are bringing back Postgraduate Courses to ensure that attendees have access to the leading-edge skills and knowledge they need to fulfill their commitment to lifelong learning.
For the last few years, the Clinical Congress has hosted three Special Sessions during the lunch hour on timely topics of interest to ACS Fellows. This year we will offer the following:
- Surgery Residency Training Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic: Perspectives from the ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators™, Monday, October 25
- Should the COVID-19 Vaccination be Mandatory?, Tuesday, October 26
- Late-Breaking Quality Initiatives in Surgery, Wednesday, October 27
More than 105 Panel Sessions on relevant and timely topics will be offered, and the Scientific Forum will include many exciting surgical research presentations and ePosters. We also are offering a range of Video-Based Education Sessions.
The Program content will remain accessible for a full year after the meeting for on-demand viewing. More than 200 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ will be available. Attendees may claim Continuing Medical Education credits until February 1, 2022, following participation in the five-day program or through subsequent review of the recorded content.
Also be sure to stop by the virtual ACS Central—the place to learn about ACS programs and products and to purchase ACS-branded items and publications. You should also consider paying a visit to the virtual Exhibit Hall, where you can learn about the new devices and products that our generous sponsors have to offer.
And just because the Clinical Congress is virtual, it doesn’t mean you can’t unwind with your peers. A number of Engagement Activities will be available this year, including vinyasa yoga, pilates, mixology, restorative yoga, and more.
The leadership of the ACS looks forward to your participation in the virtual Clinical Congress 2021, and I personally wish you all a safe, productive, and educational virtual Clinical Congress 2021 as we share in the joy of lifelong learning.