Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS, President, American College of Surgeons
Courtney M. Townsend, Jr., MD, FACS, President, American College of Surgeons

On behalf of the Board of Regents and Officers of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), it is my distinct honor to welcome you to San Diego, CA, for Clinical Congress 2017. The theme of this year’s conference is Do What’s Right for the Patient, reflecting the central focus of my 2016 Presidential Address.

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. More than 14,000 surgeons, other physicians, allied health care professionals, exhibitors, invited guests, staff, and other stakeholders are expected to attend this year’s Clinical Congress.

A highlight of each Clinical Congress is the Convocation Sunday night, during which we welcome new ACS Fellows and install the new Officers of the College. This year, 1,827 Initiates will be conferred Fellowship in the ACS, and, in keeping with a tradition started last year, we will recognize Fellows who are celebrating their 25th and 50th anniversaries of ACS Fellowship. At the Convocation, we also will recognize 10 Honorary Fellows and present the Distinguished Service Award—the College’s highest honor—and the second Mary Edwards Walker Inspiring Women in Surgery Award. Convocation will begin at 6:00 pm at the San Diego Convention Center, Hall F.

The Opening Ceremony begins at 8:00 am Monday, San Diego Convention Center, Hall F, and will signal the official start of the Clinical Congress. Immediately following the Opening Ceremony, David R. Williams, OC, OOnt, MSc, MD, CM, FRCS, a physician-astronaut, will deliver the Martin Memorial Lecture, sponsored by the American Urological Association. The focus of the lecture will be on leadership and teamwork.

The Program Committee—under the leadership of Valerie W. Rusch, MD, FACS, Chair; Henri R. Ford, MD, MHA, FACS, FAAP, Chair-Elect; and Kenneth W. Sharp, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair—has developed an impressive program, comprising 11 Named Lectures, 118 Panel Sessions on leading edge advances in surgical patient care, 19 Meet-the-Expert Sessions, and 21 Town Hall Meetings.

A highlight of the educational program will be the presentation of three Special Sessions. On Monday, ACS Past-President L. D. Britt, MD, MPH, DSc(Hon), FACS, FCCM, FRCSEng(Hon), FRCSEd(Hon), FWACS(Hon), FRCSI(Hon), FCS(SA)(Hon), FRCSGlasg(Hon), and Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, Director, ACS Division of Education, will provide an overview of the new ACS Academy of Master Surgeon Educators.

On Tuesday, we will recognize the 50th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Schwartz’s Principles of Surgery. The author of that landmark text, ACS Past-President Seymour I. Schwartz, MD, FACS, will moderate, and David C. Linehan, MD, FACS, a cancer surgeon at the University of Rochester Medical Center, NY, will co-moderate.

And on Wednesday, we will get an update on the Comparison of Outcomes of Antibiotic Drugs and Appendectomy (CODA) Trial, from moderator David R. Flum, MD, MPH, FACS, chief medical officer, UW Medicine, Seattle, WA, and co-moderator Giana Davidson, MD, MPH, assistant professor, division of general surgery, and associate member, University of Washington Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, Seattle.

The Scientific Forum will feature the oral presentations of outstanding scholarly work by surgical investigators. A new feature of this year’s program is that all scientific posters will be submitted and available for viewing electronically on any mobile device or computer throughout the entire Clinical Congress, and Continuing Medical Education credit will be provided for e-Poster Rounds.

I anticipate that you will find Clinical Congress invaluable in your effort to meet the American Board of Surgery’s Maintenance of Certification requirements as well as various other regulatory and institutional mandates. The ACS designates this live activity for a maximum of 47.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits. Self-Assessment Credits will be available for most Panel Sessions, Postgraduate Courses, and Video-Based Education Sessions, and certificates will be issued to attendees who achieve specific levels of verification through participation in Didactic and Skills Courses.

Several wellness activities will be offered this year, including 5K running and walking tours of San Diego, a spinning class, and yoga sessions. The cost per program is $10.

ACS Taste of the City is back this year. Participants in this event, which takes place Wednesday night, will experience San Diego’s beautiful waterfront and sunset while networking with colleagues and sampling local cuisine. Bring your family for an evening of live music, regional foods and beverages, fun activities, and camaraderie. The ACS presents this event free of charge to you and your guests.

In addition, Clinical Congress attendees and guests will have an opportunity to engage their sense of altruism through participation in the Feeding San Diego BackPack Program. ACS volunteers will decorate 2,500 backpacks and fill them with essential food items for families and children in need. The $25 registration fee for this program will be used to offset the overhead costs.

For several decades, the Clinical Congress has featured a Resource Center, where attendees could learn about the products and services that the ACS offers. This year, we have re-envisioned and redesigned this area as ACS Central. It still will be where you can meet staff, learn about ACS programs, and purchase ACS products, but it also will be where you will want to go to connect with friends and colleagues, charge your mobile devices, and update your Member Profile. ACS Central also will house the ACS Theatre, where short sessions describing new College programs and products will be presented Monday through Wednesday, and ACS leaders will be on hand to engage in informal “meet and greet” discussions with attendees.

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments this year is that it will be our first time in San Diego. I encourage you to learn about the history of the city and its ties to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. With its temperate climate, you and your family will want to get out and explore the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Coronado Island, and some of the finest beaches in the world.

The Clinical Congress continues to represent the gold standard in surgical education. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for ACS members to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. I would like to thank the surgeon volunteers and staff who make this event possible and to extend to each attendee my best wishes for a productive and enjoyable Clinical Congress experience.