June 6, 2023
ACS President E. Christopher Ellison, MD, FACS, MAMSE, is back from a trip to Australia, where he met with colleagues from the ACS Australia and New Zealand Chapter, as well as attended the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) Annual Scientific Congress in Adelaide. He provided the following report about his experience:
From April 30 to May 4, I visited Adelaide, Australia, in the territory of South Australia. I attended the Australian and New Zealand (ANZ) ACS Chapter and the Royal Australasia College of Surgeons Annual Scientific Congress. My host for the chapter was a colon and rectal surgeon from Auckland, New Zealand, Andrew Hill, MB ChB, EdD, FACS, FRACS, FISS, FRSNZ, President and Governor of the ANZ ACS Chapter. My host for the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons was the President Sally Langley, MB ChB, FRACS, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon from Christ Church.
The ANZ ACS Chapter consists of 320 members, of which 197 identify as general surgeons, with the remainder equally distributed across the surgical specialties; 285 are male. The meeting occurred as part of the RACS Congress. There was a good discussion at the meeting concerning several topics, including rural surgery and achieving equity in healthcare.
The chapter has a contest for the best scientific paper. There were 100 submissions, and five finalists presented their work at the ANZ Chapter ACS Surgical Forum. They were all excellent papers. Dr. Chris Varghese came in first place for his paper, "Drivers of opioid consumption after discharge from surgery: an international prospective cohort study." The prize includes travel to Clinical Congress 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts, where he will present the paper at the Surgical Forum.
The theme for the RACS 91st Annual Scientific Congress was Equity in Surgery. Prior to the meeting, there was a community immersion day, during which participants were offered a Karuna Cultural Experience in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens. Karuna people are a group of Aboriginal people whose traditional lands include the Adelaide Plains of South Australia. During the Convocation Ceremony that occurred the evening prior to the congress, 175 surgeons were inducted into RACS—the culmination of 6 years of general and medical education and surgical training.
The opening session was exceptional, including a presentation by a Karuna individual in ceremonial native dress giving the customary greeting and honoring elders past, present, and future.
A Karuna representative
Each session thereafter was begun by the moderator giving recognition to the Aboriginal peoples and thanking them for their care of the beautiful land and for allowing this meeting to take place. It was very moving. Most sessions were dedicated to the theme.
RACS has a long history, being founded in 1927 as a non-profit organization training surgeons and maintaining surgical standards in Australia and Aotearoa (the contemporary Māori language name New Zealand). Professor Ian Civil, MB ChB, FACS, FRACS, a 2019 ACS Honorary Fellow, shared an article with me that reviewed the history of RACS.
Therein was described the importance of an Australian visit by Franklin H. Martin, MD, FACS, and William J. Mayo, MD, FACS, in February 1924, with several other prominent ACS Fellows and the impact this had on the structure of this organization. The ACS representatives discussed the structure and function of the ACS and that it differed by design from the traditional lines of the Royal Colleges, which aided in achieving a style that would appeal to a new country and be an entity of use to its people.
In short, the main requirements were a specified number of records of personally performed operations and a rigid certification of ethical conduct and character. In addition, to the interest of the Australians, the ACS leaders emphasized the importance of the college having influence on improving hospital care for patients. Several Australian surgeons were offered charter membership in the ACS. The founders of RACS appreciated the model, and many of its elements were incorporated into its founding.*
Christopher Ellison, MD, FACS, MAMSE
*Smith JO. The History of the Royal Australasia College of Surgeons 1920-1935. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Surgery 1971;41:1-19. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1445-2197.1968.tb06249.x