Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS
January 9, 2023
Welcome to 2023, a new year that offers endless opportunities for fresh starts, new beginnings, and a recommitment to health and wellness and clinical excellence.
For the Bulletin, this issue marks the launch of a new design that features a contemporary style, easy-to-read layouts, and more photography and graphics than have been used in the past. We want you to want to read the Bulletin!
Within the redesigned publication, we also aim to bring you more content that can support your day-to-day practice and stories about our many remarkable colleagues around the world. In this issue, we highlight surgeons who are making a difference in Ukraine and three sets of surgeon siblings—all with unique perspectives and professional journeys.
For those of you who prefer to access content by listening to it, you may also have heard about our new podcast—the House of Surgery—where surgeons from all specialties, practice configurations, career stages, and locations will describe their success stories, explain the challenges they’ve overcome, and offer practical advice to their colleagues.
Some of the House of Surgery content has previously been released in other formats (e.g., Named Lecture from Clinical Congress); other content will be original programming. The House of Surgery will allow us to broaden the distribution of our high-quality programs in a mobile format. You can access the podcast on your favorite podcast platform, or you can listen on our website at facs.org/houseofsurgery.
The House of Surgery complements two other podcast series—The Operative Word from JACS and Surgical Readings from SRGS—both of which feature current content from their respective publications. We want feedback. Tell us what you would like to hear.
Throughout the month of January, the ACS will remind you about the importance of well-being, resilience, and work-life integration. It’s essential that we take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, so that we can take better care of our patients. This can be especially challenging with the vagaries of managing a practice with slim margins and operating on sicker and sicker patients. We, the surgeons, can feel squeezed by mandates and requirements. The ACS is addressing each of these issues with a thoughtful action-oriented strategy.
We have numerous resources on our website that can help you identify and prevent burnout, create well-being, and maintain well-being. We are also developing new resources, will be redeploying our wellness survey, and will be creating tools that will help us improve conversations with colleagues to make sure they are okay. We will also be enhancing our peer networks to help all surgeons feel supported.
At our recent Trauma Quality Improvement Program (TQIP) in Phoenix, the theme was Leadership Promoting Wellness: Taking Care of Your Team to Take Better Care of Patients. More than 1,600 surgeons, trauma medical directors, program managers, registrars, and other members of the healthcare team joined us for talks that ranged from updates on National Trauma Data Standards, to quality improvement success stories, to advice on how to deal with disruptive coworkers.
Compassionate care was a central theme throughout the conference. TQIP Medical Director Avery B. Nathens, MD, PhD, FACS, opened the meeting by emphasizing that compassion is the antidote to burnout.
The keynote address was also on compassion. Stephen Trzeciak, MD, MPH, offered scientific evidence that compassionate care not only makes a positive difference to patients, but also to caregivers themselves. He reported that he changed his own thinking and practice after seeing data showing that depersonalization led to a fivefold higher chance of suboptimal patient care. He also explained how psychological safety and accountability within the healthcare team leads to higher team performance.
Now that we are, hopefully, on the waning side of the pandemic, we have returned to in-person meetings and are regaining a critical element that enhances our professional well-being—being together and learning together.
There is a strength that comes with engaging with individuals who have a common experience, so please take advantage of our upcoming in-person conferences.
Because we recognize that surgeons have constraints on their time and resources, we are taking a thoughtful look at the footprint of all ACS meetings, including Clinical Congress. We want to be certain that every hour you spend at an ACS meeting adds value and that we are efficient and strategic with your time.
We recently launched a Surgical Quality Partner trust mark as part of a multiyear public campaign to drive awareness about the “Power of Quality”—the campaign theme. This mark is a designation that the hospital is an ACS Quality Partner and participates in at least one of the ACS Quality Programs. Twenty-eight hospitals received the mark last year, and the remaining 2,500 hospitals that participate in ACS Quality Programs will be offered the mark this year (see the November-December Bulletin).
In addition, we plan to release a Vascular Verification Program, in cooperation with the Society for Vascular Surgery, a High-Risk Gastrointestinal Surgery Verification Program, and a General Thoracic Surgery Verification Program, in cooperation with The Society of Thoracic Surgeons.
More details will be available about the public launch of the quality campaign beginning next month and about many other programs and initiatives that we plan to unveil this year.
In closing, I want to point out that the ACS is celebrating its 110th anniversary this year. I am continually inspired by the motto that has been our bedrock for more than a century—To Heal All with Skill and Trust.
I am still informed by these seven words as I think about what the future brings for us as surgeons, as an organization, and as a specialty.
Clinical excellence is our hallmark, and it is essential that we are recognized as physicians with impeccable integrity who put evidence-based patient care first and who deserve credit for the high-quality care we provide. As your ACS Executive Director and CEO, I am committed to telling our story and assuring that surgeons are recognized as leaders who know what is best for our patients and who have a voice in the conversations about the healthcare system writ large.