Unsupported Browser
The American College of Surgeons website is not compatible with Internet Explorer 11, IE 11. For the best experience please update your browser.
Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

Become a Member
Become a member and receive career-enhancing benefits

Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

Membership Benefits

Surgical Workforce

Increasing evidence indicates a current and growing shortage of surgeons. This is a critical component of the crisis in healthcare because only surgeons are uniquely trained and qualified to provide certain necessary, lifesaving procedures.

Supporting the Physician Workforce by Addressing Student Loan Debt

Surgery is an essential element in the care of a community or region. In areas with an insufficient surgical workforce, patients in need of care must travel to a place with surgical capabilities, leading to delays in care and potentially suboptimal outcomes. A 2021 report released by the American Association of Medical Colleges projects shortages of 15,800-30,200 in all surgical specialties by 2034. The high cost of medical education contributes to this ongoing physician shortage. Physicians often accumulate immense student debt during their education, and then must undertake several years of residency training with low pay, during which time their student loans accrue significant interest. This financial burden poses a barrier for students wishing to pursue certain specialties, practice in underserved areas, or even enter the health care profession at all. ACS supports legislative efforts to reduce the burden of student loan debt on physicians. 

Lawmakers have introduced two bills aimed at supporting the physician workforce by addressing student debt associated with medical education. The Resident Education Deferred Interest (REDI) Act (S. 704/H.R. 1202), introduced by Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV) and John Boozman (R-AR) and Representatives Brian Babin, DDS (R-TX-36) and Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA-6), would allow borrowers in medical or dental internships or residency programs to defer student loan payments without interest until the completion of their programs. The Specialty Physicians Advancing Rural Care (SPARC) Act (S. 705), introduced by Senators Rosen and Roger Wicker (R-MS), would establish a new loan repayment program allowing specialty physicians who agree to practice in a rural area for six years to have up to $250,000 of their student loans forgiven. These bills will alleviate some of the financial burden of medical education and help address ongoing health care provider shortages to ensure patients can access the care they need.

ACS support letter for S. 704, the REDI Act (3/9/23)

ACS support letter for H.R. 1202, the REDI Act (3/1/23)

ACS support letter for S. 705, the SPARC Act (3/9/23)

Banning Non-Compete Agreements

Non-compete agreements, also known as restrictive covenants, are provisions in employment contracts that can prohibit individuals from joining a competing firm or starting a new venture in the same field after leaving their employer. Non-competes are common in employment contracts, including those in the healthcare sector. Unfortunately, many employed surgeons are subject to contractual terms which include a restrictive covenant enforceable upon their voluntary separation or involuntary dismissal from employment, with or without cause. Studies have found that non-competes are often used even when they are illegal or unenforceable with a chilling effect on employee movement. The ACS maintains that surgeons should be free to practice where they choose. Prohibiting non-competes under federal law would provide surgeons with an option to work for a competitor, start a private practice, or even practice in an underserved area, rather than be forced to move hundreds of miles or forgo a professional opportunity.

ACS support letter for S.221, the Workforce Mobility Act (3/31/23)

ACS support letter for H.R. 731, the Workforce Mobility Act (3/31/23)

Ensuring Access to General Surgery

As part of a multi-pronged effort to address workforce shortages, ACS successfully secured language in the FY 2019 appropriations bill that directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), via Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA), to study access to general surgeons by underserved populations. In addition to the study, HRSA was directed to provide a report detailing potential surgical shortages, especially related to geographic location (i.e., rural, urban, and suburban). This congressionally mandated report released in 2020 found a maldistribution of the surgical workforce, with widespread and critical shortages of general surgeons particularly in rural areas. ACS believes that the current data highlights an urgent need to establish a surgical shortage designation. Having a surgical shortage designation will allow for better resource allocation and incentives to practice in areas where we know there are not enough general surgeons.

HRSA General Surgeon Projection Report

The ACS strongly supports the Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act, introduced by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Barrasso, MD (R-WY) and Representatives Larry Bucshon, MD (R-IN-08), Ami Bera, MD (D-CA-07), John Joyce, MD (R-PA-13), and Scott Peters (D-CA-50). This important legislation would direct HRSA to study and define general surgery workforce shortage areas and collect data on the adequacy of access to surgical services, as well as specifically grant the agency authority to designate general surgery shortage areas. Determining what constitutes a surgical shortage and designating areas where patients lack access to surgical services will provide HRSA with a valuable new tool for increasing access to the full spectrum of high-quality health care services.

ACS support letter for S.1140, Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (3/31/23)

ACS support letter for H.R.1781, Ensuring Access to General Surgery Act (3/27/23)

Reauthorization of the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) created a Medicare incentive payment program for major surgical procedures provided in health professional shortage areas (HPSAs) to increase and improve access to high-quality surgical care in rural and underserved areas. This initiative, called the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program (HSIP), provided a payment incentive to surgeons who performed major operations—defined as those with a 10-day or 90-day global period under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule—in a geographic HPSA. HPSAs are geographic areas that lack sufficient numbers of physicians to meet the healthcare needs of an area or population. HPSAs are designated by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The HSIP program expired in 2015.

The American College of Surgeons urges Congress to reauthorize the HPSA Surgical Incentive Payment Program for a period of five years. A five-year reauthorization of the HSIP will provide general surgeons, who are a key element of rural, frontline care, with the additional support they need to recover after the crisis and continue serving rural communities.

Graduate Medical Education

The ACS maintains that broad reforms to the way in which Graduate Medical Education (GME) is funded and administered are long overdue and necessary to ensure that that we are able to produce a physician workforce capable of meeting the needs of our nation’s population. The ACS believes solutions must be flexible, nimble, patient-centric and, most importantly, evidenced-based. In order to preserve the innovation and excellence for which our country’s medical system is known, GME should continue to be supported as a public good. The ACS has developed a set of principles on GME reform and used them to formulate a policy and position paper. The ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy (DAHP) intends to use these principles and the policy and position paper to advocate for reforms that are based on documented workforce studies and will result in building an optimal health care workforce.

Contact ACS Advocacy

If you have questions about ACS Advocacy,

please contact The ACS Advocacy team.