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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.

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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
Executive Director's Update

The Power of Unity: Collaborating across Specialties within the House of Surgery

Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS

May 10, 2023


Before assuming staff leadership roles in the ACS, I was in academic surgical practice, focusing on minimally invasive surgery, teaching residents, and conducting outcomes research. The ACS has been one of my key professional societies since I was a member of the Resident and Associate Society. 

As I shifted to a staff position in ACS leadership, I have maintained a faculty appointment and devoted more of my time to topics affecting all surgeons in all specialties, acknowledging that our 87,000 members need different things from the ACS and may need different things over the course of their careers. Those topics can be as diverse as innovation in a particular specialty, career development, practice management, humanitarian work, policy development, reimbursement, quality improvement, surgeon well-being, collaboration, and more. In other words, my focus has broadened to supporting colleagues and their patients across the entire House of Surgery.

Striving to provide the highest-quality healthcare in every practice setting requires mobilizing the largest coalitions of our profession. Indeed, the ACS cannot Heal All with Skill and Trust, as our motto states, unless we include every kind of surgeon in the work of the College. Regardless of specialty or subspecialty, we all can maximize our impact on our profession by collaborating to advance initiatives that enhance the practices of all surgeons and every patient.

This past month, I was pleased to join many of our members at the Leadership & Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. There, surgeons from a variety of specialties, locations, and practice configurations discussed issues affecting the surgical workforce, including proposed legislation banning noncompete agreements, reducing student loan debt, and eliminating cuts to the Medicare physician payment program. 

The summit also included talks focused on leadership, resiliency, and performance-based teaching. The 3-day event ended with more than 260 surgeons meeting with elected officials and their staff members on Capitol Hill to discuss the surgical issues affecting their practices and their patients. As these surgeons’ efforts demonstrate, assembling coalitions does enhance our ability to drive the healthcare conversation nationally. See the summit recap.

The College’s advocacy work also extends to the Surgical Care Coalition, a group of multispecialty professional associations that collectively represents 150,000 surgeons and anesthesiologists in the US. The ACS helped formally found the Coalition in 2020, after years of informal discussions to advocate for public policy that will improve the quality of care for all patients. 

The value of working across specialties extends well beyond advocacy. When members of the Board of Regents were recently asked about their experiences with collaboration across specialties, many pointed out that working together is an essential way to advance our goals as surgeons. 

ACS Past-President and vascular surgeon Julie A. Freischlag, MD, FACS, DFSVS, said, “Working on the Board of Regents collaborating with those in other surgical specialties has identified many opportunities to work together on similar issues and concerns, as well as outlined unique needs and future strategies in each field.”

General surgeon Annesley W. Copeland, MD, FACS, pointed out that clinical care is a prime example of the essential nature of cross-specialty collaboration. “As a former Army surgeon who works at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (now as a civilian), I have extensive experience in collaborating across the surgical subspecialties in the care of our wounded warriors. ENT, ophthalmology, and plastic surgery are frequently consulted in their care, in addition to the ‘workhorse’ specialties of orthopaedics and general surgery. Every subspecialty brings a unique and valuable perspective, and the care of these patients is enormously rewarding.”

Regent Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, FACS, who is the Clinical Congress Program Chair, highlighted Clinical Congress as a great example of collaboration across specialties. “Care of complex patients may require input from different specialties, and this approach is stressed in the multidisciplinary panels at the annual Clinical Congress. As evidence of their value and pertinence to our surgeons and Fellows, these panels are always well attended.”

Within the College, more than half of our 87,000 members represent a specialty other than general surgery. As surgeons, we are leaders in our own right and the engine that drives most hospitals. Together, specialists and subspecialists have far greater impact than each specialty might have alone. We know that we are stronger in coalitions with all specialties represented. 

As Regent and urological surgeon Anthony Atala, MD, FACS, explained, “As our surgery ecosystem continues to evolve and we face new challenges, the role of the College as the nexus for all specialties becomes even more relevant—we can accomplish more working together.”

Quality and Safety Conference

The ACS’s Quality Improvement (QI) Programs are also key offerings that can benefit surgeons, surgical teams, and patients. All 18 ACS Quality Programs will be featured at the Quality and Safety Conference, July 10–13, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Join us to learn more about improving QI for the benefit of all surgeons and every patient we treat. 

Sessions will address engaging key community stakeholders, centering patient experience, helping residents serve as patient advocates, and handling the fundamentals of QI. We will also offer courses and sessions on QI basics, our quality verification programs, and implementation of QI in a wide range of settings and specialties. Learn more and register at facs.org/qsc2023. I look forward to seeing you there.

Clinical Congress

As I write this, registration for Clinical Congress 2023 is opening. This year, we look forward to welcoming colleagues to Boston, Massachusetts, balancing last year’s San Diego, California, conference with a location on the East Coast. Last year, we had the first-ever hybrid Clinical Congress, which meant that, after 3 long pandemic years of online meetings, we were assembled in person once more. By all accounts, the meeting was terrific. Clinical Congress 2023 will be hybrid again, with selected livestreamed and on-demand content available to virtual attendees. That said, the benefit of camaraderie and the engagement of seeing colleagues in person cannot be overstated.

We will continue to unite surgeons of all specialties across the House of Surgery, so please register here: facs.org/clincon2023 and encourage your colleagues to come. 

Dr. Patricia L. Turner is the Executive Director & CEO of the American College of Surgeons. Contact her at executivedirector@facs.org.