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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.

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ACS
Executive Director Update

Building Trust in Our Profession

by Patricia L. Turner, MD, MBA, FACS

Building Trust in Our Profession

Surgeons are used to being in charge. We lead our teams in the operating room as we perform complex procedures. We train surgical residents, and we continually innovate and solve problems. We are curious by nature and always rise to the challenge. 

We face challenges as a profession, and I ask you now to work with me on issues important to us all. Let’s unite, as members of our professional organization, and further demonstrate to policymakers and the public the essential role surgeons play in our healthcare system.

The ACS motto is “To Heal All with Skill and Trust,” and though we are unequivocally recognized for our skill, we are less widely known for our efforts to heal all—sometimes eroding trust in us.

In our inaugural Surgeons in America Survey last year, four key audiences were asked how effectively we fulfilled the ACS promise To Heal All with Skill and Trust. Those audiences were opinion leaders, policy influencers, healthcare stakeholders, and nonmember surgeons, trainees, and medical students. 

The survey, which helps us better understand our reputation in the healthcare system, indicated gaps in knowledge about how we influence health policy, work to make healthcare more efficient, offer equitable access to care, and provide healthcare to all communities, including those who have historically had less access.

Though we are unequivocally recognized for our skill, we are less widely known for our efforts to heal all—sometimes eroding trust in us.

Flipping the Script

Although we have a solid reputation among these audiences, we still have room for improvement. Let’s reshape this narrative and tell our story proudly. 

How do we do that? By taking advantage of many ACS resources that extend beyond those we are assumed to provide.

Caring for our patients is and always will be our top priority. We do all we can to ensure that optimal care is delivered—supporting individual surgeons no matter their practice environ. Through our exceptional quality programs, we help set the standards for patient care. We also advocate for equitable access to high quality care and advocate for the best policy solutions to support our work and our patients, whether it be expanding coverage for screening exams, stabilizing the Medicare payment system, or calling for reasonable measures to diminish premature death from trauma.

With all of us actively engaged and working together, our voices will be stronger, will be heard more prominently, and will engender more action.

This notion of trust is the bedrock of what we do. Our patients and the public place their trust in us differently than in any other physician, and they trust physicians more than any other professionals. 

To build and sustain that bond, we must clearly demonstrate our impeccable integrity and showcase our values, which are exemplified in our quality programs. We must reassure patients that when they see us and seek our opinions, they will receive the best evidence-based recommendations, and get the best care, at the right time, in a way that is efficient and centers their needs. 

If anyone has a question about something under the umbrella of surgery care in this country—whether it’s who has certain data, or what is the best operation for this condition, or what is a solution to this thorny problem—I want them to come to the ACS, as we represent you and can be the gold standard for all things surgical. We, rather than legislators, administrators, or other healthcare providers, should be making decisions about what impacts our ability to practice. 

Don’t we want lawmakers on Capitol Hill to ask us for our expert opinion on key surgical issues? 

Don’t we want the media to have accurate data and information about surgery and about surgeons? We need to encourage them to come to us before publishing and broadcasting stories that may be inaccurate. When nuanced conversations require medical professionals to interpret it, the ACS should be where they come to ask those questions and receive cogent, thorough, and accurate answers. 

How can you engage in these efforts? You can help us by developing relationships with your local media to become trusted experts. Reporters reach out to us regularly, looking for experts in their communities. We have the ability to provide you with media training and talking points on key issues. We can help you craft op-eds in your local newspapers that advance the mission of the ACS and support our efforts on behalf of surgeons. 

Let us know your interest in being part of our public information network of experts by contacting me at the email below; Brian Edwards, chief of external communications, will then contact you. The more we maximize our positive connections with the public and policymakers, the better they will understand our role in healthcare and the positive impact we have in the lives of our patients every day. 

Social media also can be beneficial in sharing information and raising trust. At a time when misinformation is rampant, you can share your knowledge about disease, treatments, new research findings, your accomplishments, and those of your hospital and colleagues. If you are just beginning to engage on social media, you can start by amplifying the well-vetted, well-researched, and always appropriate posts of the ACS on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram. If you want assistance in effectively using social media to better tell your story and ours, we have social media experts on staff who are planning educational modules for just this purpose.

#SurgeonsSowingHope

ACS President Dr. Julie Freischlag issued a call to action in her 2021 Presidential Address. She urged us to spread messages of hope to enhance recovery, elevate healing, and inspire our patients, our communities, and ourselves.

We’ve started including short videos with the hashtag #SurgeonsSowingHope in social media and linked in our various newsletters. I encourage you to post your own videos and stories as we approach Clinical Congress, scheduled for October 16–20 in San Diego.

Anticipation is rising for this year’s conference—the first in-person Clinical Congress since 2019. We look forward to being together again, celebrating our successes, reflecting on lessons learned, and taking advantage of opportunities to learn, network, and strategize. 

New ACS Website Launches 

The wait is over for the debut of our new website. The new facs.org was developed after extensive research and interviews with hundreds of surgeons, quality program administrators, and others.

The website has a modern design and clear call to action buttons. More importantly, it includes a user-focused navigation structure to help you more easily move to the section of the site you need, as well as built-in “smart” personalization that will learn user preferences over time and provide a more customized experience. The search functionality also is substantially improved over our previous website. 

Read more about the new website.

The Arbiter of All Things Surgical

As you explore the new website and consider how you can help articulate positive messages about surgeons and surgery as a profession, think about our motto: To Heal all with Skill and Trust. 

Together, we can more clearly convey our inherent value and build trust among external audiences. Surgery drives the machinery of our hospitals, but not everyone acknowledges that. 

I want the American College of Surgeons to be known as the arbiter of all things surgical. We want everyone to know that we all strive to exemplify our motto every day—truly healing all with skill and trust, both individually and as an organization. Please join me in helping tell this story.


 

If you have comments or suggestions, please send them to Dr. Turner at executivedirector@facs.org.