American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ESS President's Message: January 2018

It is with a great sense of honor that I have accepted the role of President of the new Excelsior Society. It truly is humbling to reflect on the contributions of our forefathers in World War II who created the original Excelsior Society to meet the needs of military surgeons to share lessons learned after their wartime experience. 

I also wish to recognize our individual services with a sense of the “loss” of our individual societies: The Society of Air Force Clinical Surgeons and The Gary P. Wratten Surgical Symposium (Wratten Society).  As we have come together in partnership, we hope to sustain the fellowship and mentorship that existed within these societies.

With extreme gratitude, I am thrilled to announce that through the Military Health Services Strategic Partnership American College of Surgeons (MHSSPACS), annual American College of Surgeons (ACS) membership dues for active duty military members have now been reduced by 50 percent (from $622 to $311). The discount will also apply to deployed guard and reserve during the year they are deployed.

President Eric Elster, MD, FACS, CAPT, USN led a remarkably successful year as the first President of the new Excelsior Surgical Society in 2017.

In conjunction with the 2017 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress, the Excelsior Program Committee led the 3rd Annual Excelsior Surgical Society meeting entitled, “Achieving Surgical Readiness: Where Are We Now & Where Are We Going?” The meeting was attended by over 200 members. Highlights of the meeting included the Region 13 Committee on Trauma paper competition, tri-service general surgery consultant/specialty leader updates, tri-service research presentations from several surgical specialties, and the Army Major John P. Pryor lecture delivered by COL (Ret.) John Holcomb, MD, FACS. A military tract at the ACS meeting was identified and supported by Excelsior that included recognition of two military surgeons, COL (ret) Basil Pruitt, MD, USA and COL (ret) Norman Rich, MD, USA as Icons of Surgery by the ACS. The meeting also included networking opportunity for military residents, young surgeons, and residency program directors to meet with over 20 fellowship program directors. 

The Excelsior Outreach Committee successfully established a social media presence, developed a plan for re-institution of the Senior Visiting Surgeon (SVS) program, and launched a mentorship program

The Excelsior Finance and Membership Committee formalized our financial structure with the incorporation of legacy funds within the ACS, to include the original Excelsior Surgical Society Churchill funds and USUHS Department of Surgery funds, in addition to the Society of Air Force Clinical Surgeon Humphreys Fund. These funding sources have well positioned us on very solid financial ground which will ensure independent means to maintain the Excelsior as a permanent Society of its own, without dependence on funding from the military services.

The Excelsior membership process has now been established, and, to date, 234 members have joined. Annual dues were set at $100. Currently we have three categories of membership according to the bylaws (Active, Associate, and Honorary). This year, an “International/Global” membership category will be established. The Society will also incorporate a new category of “Distinguished” membership established to acknowledge exceptional military service while still permitting the member to maintain active membership privileges. For additional membership information on the Excelsior Surgical Society at any level please contact Garrett G. Kirk at

Honorary members elected to the Excelsior Surgical Society in 2017:

  • Colonel (Ret.) Basil A. Pruitt, Jr., MD, FACS, FCCM, USA
  • Margaret M. Knudson, MD, FACS
  • Michael F. Rotondo, MD, FACS
  • David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS

The purpose of our Society remains as outlined in the by-laws:

  1. Support the objectives of the Military Health System Strategic Partnership with the American College of Surgeons (MHSSPACS).  These objectives include improving surgical education, optimizing systems-based practices, and fostering surgical research. 
  2. Serve as a specialty society providing a forum for the exchange of surgical knowledge as it relates to the practice of military surgery.
  3. Provide a forum for military tri-service (Army, Navy, and Air Force) exchange of information as it relates to optimization of wartime and peacetime care of military personnel. 

In order to meet the intent outlined above, the Excelsior Society will continue to focus on the following three goals: Support the MHSSPACS efforts on Quality and Readiness; Develop a ‘home’ for all military surgeons (active, reserve, guard, retired, supporters); and Support military surgeons as they enter and leave the Military Health System (MHS). Additional information is available on the Excelsior website.

We military surgeons are indeed grateful for the support of the American College of Surgeons. I was present for the ceremonial signing of the original MHSSPACS charter and will not forget Dr. Hoyt’s remarks that the ACS does not “want” to support the military - it “needs” to.  This mutually beneficial relationship has continued to expand.

Whether you are just starting your military career or have deployed many times, thank you for your service to our warfighters and to our country. To those deployed please stay safe. To those gone before us, thank you for everything you have taught us - it is not forgotten.

Col Stacy Shackelford, MD, FACS
President, Excelsior Surgical Society