American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Why Your Support Matters

“I can think of few other organizations which deserve our strong support as members of the profession of surgery. Giving to this organization will be a heritage you can be proud of; a gift to the ACS Foundation is a gift to future surgical patients and their surgeons—what could be better?” 

—Danny R. Robinette, MD, FACS

Your Support MattersThe Foundation has a single beneficiary: The American College of Surgeons (ACS) and, by extension, all those who benefit from its programs in optimal patient care. Donors can choose to give to a variety of areas. Whether your interest is making a difference in surgical research, education, rural surgery, trauma, scholarships, or area of greatest need in non-revenue programs through the Greatest Needs Fund, we promise to use your investment wisely. One hundred percent of your contribution will be dedicated to the program you designate.

The Greatest Needs Fund

Gifts made to the ACS Foundation’s Greatest Needs Fund directly support the future of the surgical profession by funding education and research. The purpose of unrestricted funds is to ensure stability and advancement of the College’s mission and provide a source of internal capital for College priorities. The Greatest Needs Fund supports program activities that are not directly aided by public or grant funding and do not have the ability to produce revenue. 

Quality Division, Continuous Quality Improvement

Sensible Measures Clinical Scholar

The ACS Clinical Scholars in Residence program offers a two-year onsite fellowship in surgical outcomes research, health services research, and health care policy. The program includes the opportunity to earn a master’s degree in health services and outcomes research or health care quality and patient safety at Northwestern University’s Medical School, Chicago, IL. By partnering with the leadership and staff of ACS Quality Programs—along with clinical, methodological, and statistical experts—ACS Clinical Scholars are ideally positioned to support measures development, bridging the work of the ACS Division of Research and Optimal Patient Care and the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy to advance the development of implementation of sensible measures.

Quality Division, Trauma Programs

International Trauma Education

Supported by the ACS Committee on Trauma, the Advanced Trauma Life Support® (ATLS®) program has been successful in many countries; however, there are certain limitations it presents to promulgating in austere and low-income/underserved nations. The curriculum design is complex and has faculty, facility, and equipment requirements that are not easily met in more remote parts of the world. In order to address the gap, we are proposing an initiative to more widely disseminate the Trauma Evaluation and Management® (TEAM®) program, which encompasses some of the core principles of the ATLS program. The TEAM format is flexible and provides a standardized introductory course in the evaluation and management of trauma for health care providers and multidisciplinary team members.

Quality Division, Cancer Programs

Breast Staging Calculator

The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC) 8th Edition Breast Staging Calculator will be a web-based tool to help physicians accurately calculate the stage based on the T, N, M, and prognostic factors. The inclusion of prognostic factors in breast cancer staging has made the AJCC system more accurate in predicting survival and informing treatment, but also more complex for users. The AJCC Breast Staging Calculator will make the staging of cancer patients easier for physicians and will be based on a logic engine that adheres to the rules of the breast staging system.

National Minority Quality Care Index

The College’s National Cancer Database (NCDB) is now the world’s largest clinical database, with 36 million patients with all types of cancer, each containing more than 200 data points. To create a template for national application, the ACS Cancer Programs proposes a data merger between the ACS NCDB and the National Minority Quality Forum and the launch of a public education program on shifting the stage downward for a well-known disease, non-small cell lung cancer afflicting the poor in the state of Kentucky.

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Study

The Commission on Cancer (CoC) is undertaking a data analysis—with Northwestern University and the NCDB—of 2,000 patients and will compare with a like number of a similar type of non-small cell lung cancer patients from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons database. This is expected to demonstrate, comparable to other ProvenCare disease models, a decrease in complications and decreased costs for the management of non-small cell lung cancer.

Tumor Board Education Series

The goal of this pilot program is to develop a change package that leverages the multidisciplinary tumor board setting in communities to facilitate dissemination and implementation of Alliance trial data. A change package is an implementation tool that consists of evidence-based practice recommendations and instructions for adapting processes to enable the change. The first component of the package would include a short educational video highlighting trial data that can be shown in tumor boards.

Multidisciplinary tumor boards have become a standard of quality cancer care. The discussion at these conferences can lead to changes in treatment planning in up to 40 percent of cases and increase compliance with national guidelines.

Tumor boards allow for participation of multiple stakeholders in a single setting, social reinforcement of change on a practical level as patient care pathways are devised, and visibility of practice change. While tumor boards are conducted on a regular basis, participation can be problematic with surgeon attendance reported as low as 50 percent in some communities. However, while participation may not be consistent, general surgeons cite the tumor board as an opportunity to improve multidisciplinary patient management, communication between colleagues, and a time for professional development.

The specific aims of this pilot project are as follows:

  1. Design a video package to disseminate Alliance trial data as well as cancer care standards that is feasible for use in community tumor board settings
  2. Develop decision-making tools to guide discussion around organizational practice changes that accounts for the contextual framework of communities with heterogeneous resources
  3. Evaluate decision making and execution of practice change in community oncology practices.

Focus Groups to Optimize Accreditation Standards and Identify Best Practices in the Regional Cancer Programs

The ACS Cancer Programs sets the standards, and awards three-year accreditation to approximately 2,200 hospitals with CoC and/or National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers accreditation. Our NCDB contains detailed information on the demographics, treatment, and outcomes of nearly 36 million cancer patients. We wish to bring together focus groups with hospital cancer program leaders (physicians, nurses, administrators, registrars) from designated regional hospitals for feedback about how to best achieve quality improvement and outcomes for their cancer patients. This will allow optimization of Cancer Programs’ accreditation standards, collection of best practices, and improved management of the multiple accreditation programs.

Division of Member Services

Surgical History Group Initiatives       

The Surgical History Group (SHG) would like to establish a fellowship to support a research scholar to travel to Chicago, or to the Orr Collection in Omaha, NE, to engage directly with the ACS archival collection. This fellowship would include financial support to defray the cost of travel and lodging for a scholar whose research requires on-site examination of the documents, videos, or other material in the collection.

In addition, the SHG hosts an annual poster competition at Clinical Congress. After Clinical Congress 2016, the SHG agreed that the student and resident scholarships deserved wider distribution in a more permanent format than posters on bulletin boards. Therefore, all participants were invited to submit their work in written form for a collection of articles. The first ACS Bulletin showcasing these articles was published in March 2017 with great success. The SHG would like to continue the print run annually with a collection of published articles.


The Orr Collection, housed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, has been generally underutilized due to distance and the logistics of safe-guarding rare books. The Archives team proposes to curate a traveling exhibit, perhaps to be showcased at Clinical Congress 2018, which would then travel to the DC and Chicago offices. The exhibit would showcase rare medical books in the College’s collection.

Operation Giving Back

ACS Training Hub in Sub-Saharan Africa

The regional surgical college, College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA), has developed an innovative plan to scale up training and provide service to the underserved population. COSECSA covers a large region of 10 countries and more than 300 million people. The proposed partnership between ACS and COSECSA is to develop a centralized ACS-surgical training hub that will provide a comprehensive support to scale up surgical and anesthesia workforce education.

Women Surgical Scholars Program in Sub-Saharan Africa

There is a severe shortage of surgeons in the Sub-Saharan Africa and although women make up more than 50 percent of the population, they represent only 7 percent of the surgical workforce. The primary goal for the Women Surgical Scholars Program is to support women in surgical residency to complete their training and encourage other women in medicine to consider surgery as a profession. The scholarship award will be used for educational expenses that include accreditation, fellowship examination, and five years of membership dues to COSECSA. The program will be open to senior, graduating female surgical residents enrolled within the COSECSA region.

Selected Readings in General Surgery Subscriptions for COSECSA Residents

With philanthropic funding, the collaboration between Operation Giving Back (OGB) and COSECSA to help provide permanent, capable, surgical infrastructure in Africa would include provision of complimentary ACS Selected Readings in General Surgery (SRGS)  subscriptions to COSECSA surgical residents. Trial subscriptions have been given to COSECSA residency program directors and were enthusiastically received for use in their surgical training programs. At the request of these program directors, OGB wishes to supply COSECSA’s 37 residency programs with 240 annual subscriptions.

Division of Education

Sponsor-a-Medical Student Initiative

Each year, about 400 medical students from all years of medical school attend Clinical Congress for a three-day program offered by the ACS Division of Education. The Medical Student Program is designed for those considering a career in surgery and includes presentations about exploring various types of surgical practices and lifestyle issues in surgery, decision making on the path to residency, and navigating the residency application process.

This extraordinary program is available at no cost to ACS Medical Student Members who register in advance. The substantial costs to develop and offer this annual program are borne by the ACS Division of Education. Your tax-deductible gift of $250 is made to the ACS Foundation, and you may help support as many students as you wish.

Objective Assessment of Skills in Surgery

Ensuring that residents are ready for independent practice is an increasingly formidable challenge facing residency program directors. Even decisions regarding the progression of residents to the next postgraduate year can be difficult because of a lack of objective measures of surgical skills. To help support program directors in their efforts to assess the progress of residents during training, the ACS Division of Education is developing an objective assessment of technical skills called the Objective Assessment of Skills in Surgery (OASIS).

The goal is to use OASIS twice, once during the early midlevel period and a second time toward the latter part of training. In both instances, residents will be able to address any identified weaknesses while still in the residency environment. OASIS will assess a series of technical tasks essential for all graduating residents, using simulation-based, time-limited stations with trained faculty evaluators. Sixteen stations are being developed and the first full pilot of OASIS is slated for 2018 with 200 residents. The objective assessment of technical skills is an essential part of preparing residents for practice; yet, few options are readily available. The ACS Division of Education is developing OASIS with the purpose of making it accessible and affordable for all residency programs seeking to ensure that their residents are well prepared, safe surgeons.

Funding Goal: $10,000 per resident group, $100,000 per Technical Skills Station Annually

Icons in Surgery

This continuing project creates inspirational videos to highlight the science, innovation, or moral values of ACS Fellows. The Icons in Surgery videos are meant to educate and illustrate the groundbreaking work of surgeons. Previous videos have been shown at surgical grand rounds so that residents and students can gain an appreciation of the monumental accomplishments by the “Icons.”

The 2015 Icons in Surgery documented the career of Claude Organ, MD, FACS, who was denied admittance to the University of Texas Medical School because he was black and then went on to become an inspirational leader for two residency programs. The video about Thomas Starzl, MD, FACS, detailed the incredible story of how he made critical scientific breakthroughs that allowed solid organ transplantation to become a reality for all patients.

There will be four 12-minute videos shown during two separate one-hour sessions at Clinical Congress. Each session will feature two inspirational videos.

First and foremost, the Icons in Surgery videos must be relevant and directed towards current ACS Fellows and potential ACS members, particularly medical students. The video series also serve as a tool to educate other members of the medical community and society at-large.