The Clinical Congress of Surgeons of North America, which began in 1910, and the American College of Surgeons (ACS), which began in 1913, met concurrently for three years, then were united in 1917 and became unparalleled successes as teaching sessions among surgeons of the early 20th century. However, their infrequence and geographical location limited attendance by many surgeons who desired to improve their knowledge. Early in 1919, John Wesley Long, MD, FACS, Greensboro, NC, suggested decentralization of this educational effort.
During the next Clinical Congress held in New York, in October 1919, the Board of Regents authorized the organization of "Clinical Sections" in each of the states of the United States and in the provinces of Canada, for the purpose of "promoting within each individual state and province the purposes for which the College was founded." Each section was to hold an annual session of from two to three days at a time and place determined by its executive committee. The program would include surgical diagnostic clinics and clinical demonstrations to be conducted in the mornings; afternoon meetings for the laity; and scientific and literary papers relating to the art and science of surgery to be presented at evening meetings.
The first state clinical section session was held in Butte, MT, September 3 - 4, 1920. Ten additional meetings were held during the last four months of 1920; 28 were held in 1921; and 19 in 1922. From the beginning there were cooperative efforts at scheduling meetings in sections of the country to allow distinguished speakers to go from one to another on a logical tour, and in an economical fashion. ACS founder Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, and others frequently spent several weeks away from home at various state clinical sessions in turn addressing audiences of surgeons, hospital administrators, and laymen.
Sectional meetings were discontinued after 1972, and replaced by a single annual Spring Meeting, beginning in 1973.
(Adapted from an article by Robert J. Kamish, MD, FACS which appeared in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, November-December 1965)
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