The American College of Surgeons (ACS) is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. From 2012 to 2013, the College observed a year-long commemoration of its Centennial, "100 Years of Inspiring Quality."
The American College of Surgeons is dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.
Members of the ACS are referred to as "Fellows." The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College.
There is also another category of membership known as "Associate Fellow." This category was established to provide an opportunity for surgeons who are beginning surgical practice and who meet specific requirements to assume an active role in the College at an early stage in their careers.
In addition, there are categories of membership for surgical residents, medical students, and members of the surgical team.
The College currently has more than 80,000 members, including more than 6,600 Fellows in other countries, making it the largest organization of surgeons in the world. There are presently more than 3,200 Associate Fellows.
Major Activities of the College
Sponsors a variety of continuing medical education programs, such as the Clinical Congress, to help surgeons keep abreast of the latest information on surgical subjects.
Conducts various programs through its Commission on Cancer to improve the care of the cancer patient. Promotes a program that encourages hospitals to develop programs for optimal care of cancer patients and to seek, on a voluntary basis, College approval of these programs.
Through its Committee on Trauma, works to improve the care of injured and critically ill patients–before, en route to, and during hospitalization. Conducts training courses in emergency care for ambulance personnel; sponsors courses for the management and prevention of injuries for trauma specialists as well as for physicians who do not treat trauma victims on a regular basis; and works to encourage hospitals to upgrade their trauma care capabilities. Maintains a voluntary verification/consultation program for trauma centers.
Monitors and analyzes socioeconomic, legislative, and regulatory issues affecting the field of surgery through its Division of Advocacy and Health Policy, which is based in Washington, DC. Participates in policy development on these issues and prepares responses to Congress and federal agencies.
Serves as a sponsoring organization for the Residency Review Committees for Colon and Rectal Surgery, Neurological Surgery, Otolaryngology, Plastic Surgery, Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, and Urology. Supports postdoctoral education in surgery through several scholarship programs.
Through its Office of Public Information, provides general information to the public about surgeons and surgical care. A patient education website, which was developed by the College’s Division of Education, helps individuals contemplating elective procedures make informed decisions about surgical care, and provides a variety of resources on frequently performed surgical procedures and related issues.
The College has developed the Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program (SESAP)® to provide practicing surgeons with an excellent resource for lifelong learning. SESAP is based on the opinions of expert surgeons, and the published literature, and may be used to stay current, earn CME credits, or prepare for certification or recertification.
ACS NewsScope, a weekly e-mail newsletter highlighting current news affecting surgeons, their practices, and their patients.
The Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons is the College's monthly news magazine for its Fellows. It contains articles that the surgeon finds helpful in the daily practice of his or her profession, columns and articles that highlight and analyze socioeconomic trends, major addresses given at the Clinical Congress, a news section, and detailed reports on College activities.
Journal of the American College of Surgeons, the College's official scientific journal, is published monthly.
Surgery News, the College’s official monthly newspaper, provides concise, cutting-edge reports from clinical meetings; reports on the politics affecting the surgical profession and the socioeconomic scene in Washington, DC, and at the state level; FDA actions and the results of clinical trials; expert commentary; reports on the business aspects of surgical practice today; and news from the College itself.
The College produces and publishes more than 300 other publications on a variety of topics that affect surgical practice, including manuals that focus on ways of improving surgical practice, guidelines for trauma care, and information on the operating room environment. A catalog listing College publications is available through the Office of Public Information (312-202-5391).
Administration of the College
The College is governed by a 22-member Board of Regents, which includes the ACS President. The board is elected by a geographically balanced and specialty-representative Board of Governors.
On the local level, Fellows of the College are organized into 104 chapters. There are 64 chapters in the United States, 2 in Canada, and 38 in other countries around the world.
The College has numerous committees whose members are top surgical specialists in their fields. These committees study particular aspects of surgery and make recommendations for improvement in these areas.