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American College of Surgeons (ACS) Board of Governors Update

In June of 2021, the American College of Surgeons Board of Regents (BoR) meetings took place. The following is a summary of some of the highlights from this meeting.

Board of Regents Focus Areas: Dr. Scott Levin, Chair of the BoR, highlighted the 2021 focus areas of the BoR: surgical specialty engagement in the ACS, enhanced communication with the ACS Fellows under the guidance of Dr. Steven Wexner, and ongoing efforts to enhance our efforts to promote a diverse surgical workforce. Programming for specialty surgeons is being included in all upcoming meetings. Dr. Levin emphasized that diversity increases returns, and it is essential to engage the entire “House of Surgery.” Dr. David B. Hoyt, Executive Director, discussed that, as we transition out of the Covid-19 pandemic the ACS remains strong financially, and programmatically. The transition to virtual meeting programming continues to be well received by the Fellows.

ACS Executive Director: Patricia L. Turner MD, MBA, FACS has been selected to serve as the next Executive Director of the ACS, following the exemplary leadership provided by Dr. David B. Hoyt these past 11 years. Dr. Turner will begin her new role as Executive Director-Elect on October 1, 2021. She will formally assume the role of Executive Director January 1, 2022.

ACS Finances: Finances remain strong and stable. The ACS weathered the pandemic, keeping its workforce intact, with significant support from ACS Human Resources. There were no dues increase in 2020 (or planned for 2021).

New ACS Statements: The BoR approved ACS Statements on Resident Access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the Importance of Workplace Accommodations for Pregnancy, Parental Leave, and Lactation Support for Practicing Surgeons, and Restrictive Covenants.

Young Fellows Association (YFA): Led by Dr. Joshua Mammen, the YFA has continued to focus on diversity and inclusion and has developed a transparent process for the selection of leadership and liaisons. Ongoing projects include work on the ACS restrictive covenant policy, Clinical Congress submissions, the YFA mentorship program, and a white paper on best practices to ensure inclusivity of meetings for all surgeons.

Resident and Associate Society (RAS): Led by Dr. Raphael Sun, the RAS has continued to engage in projects in education, advocacy, communications, and global surgery to engage and support both surgeons in-training and new residency graduates. Current projects include a Financial Literacy series, highlighting the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on young surgeons, and expansion of the “So You Think You Can Operate” toolkit.

Division of Advocacy and Health Policy: The Virtual Leadership & Advocacy Summit was successfully held in May 2021, with a record number of attendees, representing more than 43 states, participating in 289 meetings with their legislators. The primary 2021 Advocacy goal for this year is stopping the 9% Medicare payment cut scheduled for January 1, 2022 and developing plan to stop consideration of cuts every year. The ACS is viewed favorably by legislators due to consistent ACS engagement. Focus groups demonstrate negative perceptions of surgeons as individuals, especially among Democrats. The public is unaware that surgeons are frontline workers. Healthcare inequity is an important topic, as is the broken healthcare system. Moving forward it is anticipated that surgeons will be “revalued,” uncoupling compensation from volume and RVUs and developing alternative payment models. Value based healthcare (VBHC) can be patient centered and linked to quality. The ACS Quality model includes verification, PROs, event rate reports, episode-based data, stakeholder alignment, and shared accountability (physicians and facilities). The ACS THRIVE program is currently being piloted as a means for hospitals to measure and improve value. The ACS Bulletin series of articles on Value Based Care provides important information on this topic. ACS Fellow engagement with the SurgeonsPAC is extremely important!

ACS Division of Education: Led by Dr. Ajit Sachdeva, the Division of Education continues to provide resources to promote excellence and expertise in surgery across the continuum of professional education. Extensive programming and resources are available for medical students, surgical residents, and attending surgeons with additional programs under development.

ACS Division of Integrated Communications: Dr. Steve Wexner updated progress on the ACS digital transformation. A new website will be released by the end of 2021, tailoring content to what Fellows need on an individual basis. Social media updates also are ongoing, with “handles” being standardized to be more easily discoverable. A new addition will be an Instagram feed, with surgical stories highlighted. Close monitoring of both the social media and press feeds, and utilization, is performed to modify content to meet the needs of Fellows. All content will be optimized for mobile utilization, leading viewers to pertinent website content. The expanded platform also will provide opportunities for “freelance” authorship by a wider group of Fellows and other contributors.

BoR Committee on Racial Issues: The anti-racism efforts of the BoR Committee on Racial Issues are ongoing, following through on the release of their recommendations in 2020. Enhanced demographics of ACS Fellows are being voluntarily collected via expanded MyProfile questions. The BoG Diversity Pillar has surveyed the ACS Chapters, and partner organizations, regarding DEI efforts, with a virtual ACS summit “Promoting DEI/Antiracism for Professional Societies” held on June 23, 2021. “Best Practices” were discussed at breakout sessions, with results available to the Fellows following the event. The BoR Finance Committee approved funding for a maximum number of eight matching grants for innovative and impactful programs dealing with diversity, equity, inclusion, or anti-racism issues. Each grant would be supported by the College at $25,000 or $50,000, with a matching institutional contribution, with applications open to all surgical related professional societies, surgery-related departments, or group practices. Grantees to be announced at the ACS 2021 Clinical Congress.

Operation Giving Back: OGB has successfully developed a sustainable learning space in Africa, ACS-Hawassa (Ethiopia) Surgical Training Hub. This is a joint effort, including Hawassa University, U.S. surgical programs and the Ethiopian Ministry of Health. It is a model for program development to support international surgical residency training.

The ACS 2021 Clinical Congress will be virtual October 23-28, 2021, with Convocation Sunday evening October 24, 2021 and the Annual Business Meeting of Members October 27, 2021.

Jon C. Gould, M.D.
CSA Representative, ACS Board of Governors

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