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


Patient Education Committee Meets to Discuss Telemedicine and Other Issues

The American College of Surgeons (ACS) Patient Education Committee participated in a retreat June 3, followed by the committee meeting June 4. Opening remarks by David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS, ACS Executive Director, and John M. Daly, MD, FACS, and Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, FSACME, Co-Chairs of the Patient Education Committee, identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated greater emphasis on digital health, mobile and wearable health devices, and telehealth and telemedicine to communicate with patients. Going forward there is a great need to provide tools that engage and empower patients to make informed decisions, prevent complications, and support the management of recovery outside traditional care settings.

Main topic areas for the retreat included definition of the value proposition and clear identification of stakeholders. Participants discussed strategies to elevate the ACS as the trusted source for surgical education to insurers, hospital systems, and others.

Access to the Skills Course portfolio increased by 900 percent during the pandemic and accounted for more than 60 percent of ACS streaming services. Plans to expand offerings and connect with hospitals are being pursued.

The Surgical Cancer Training Series and close work with the Commission on Cancer (CoC) to expand its reach has been a positive development. Technology was the last major topic of the retreat, and the committee offered suggestions for working with other groups outside and within the ACS to maximize use of digital health tools to improve surgical outcomes and enhance efficiency.

The Patient Education Committee meeting June 4 focused on planning, dissemination, and outcomes of existing programs. Patient resources on COVID-19 and the new program on Preparing Patients for Digital Health Visits were reviewed.

The Safe Pain Control Program has worked with specialty associations to develop print and electronic resources for pediatric, gynecology, oncology, and otolaryngology surgery. Nine professional education modules on opioid-sparing pain control and enhanced recovery are available at no charge, and the Regional Anesthesia Training Course—canceled because of the pandemic—is being planned for a future date. Small grants have been received to support local hospital implementation and evaluation.

The new electronic delivery option of the Patient Care website is loaded with patient content and tools that the ACS, National Institutes of Health, and National Cancer Institute have reviewed. The site is being sent to ACS Governors and committee members for trial. Steps have been taken to translate patient education resources into different languages.

The Surgical Breast Cancer Program, developed with input from the National Accreditation Program for Breast Cancer, the CoC, and multiple patient advocacy groups, was reviewed, and video training will be uploaded to the ACS website in July. Skills training on wound management and exercises for lymphedema prevention are included. The Lung Cancer Surgery Program has been sent for updates, and plans are beginning for the Surgical Colon Cancer Program. The Trusted Medical Information Certified Program was revisited, and plans are to move ahead with all surgical specialties to develop a consortium of national surgical professional organizations dedicated to the improvement in the quality of education delivered to patients and their families using evidence-based standards, verified content, and ongoing evaluation.

For details, contact Kathleen Heneghan, PhD, MSN, RN, FAACE, Assistant Director, Patient Education, Division of Education, at  

Ethics Committee Selects Surgery Ethics Fellows and Plans for Clinical Congress

Four recipients of the Fellowship in Surgical Ethics for 2020–2021 were selected at the June meeting of the ACS Committee on Ethics. Awardees include: Elle Kalbfell, MD, a general surgery resident at University of Wisconsin-Madison; Connie Shao, MD, a general surgery resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; Veronica Sullins, MD, assistant clinical professor of surgery in pediatric surgery at the University of California Los Angeles; and Theresa Williamson, MD, chief resident in neurological surgery, department of neurosurgery, at Duke University, Durham, NC. Offered since 2015, the Fellowship in Surgical Ethics is sponsored by the ACS Division of Education and MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics, University of Chicago, IL, to prepare surgeons for careers that combine clinical practice with scholarly studies in surgical ethics.

Committee members also discussed activities planned for Clinical Congress 2020, including the John J. Conley Ethics and Philosophy Lecture to be given by Robert D. Truog, MD, MA, Frances Glessner Lee Professor of Medical Ethics and director, Center for Bioethics, Harvard University Medical School, Boston, MA. Dr. Truog is author of Death, Dying, and Organ Transplantation: Reconstructing Medical Ethics at the End of Life.

Other sessions are slated to address challenges to informed consent, ownership and use of big data, ethical considerations for participating in clinical research, legislating informed consent, and ethics in surgical training and career advancement. A session on the role of surgeon advocacy was discussed, along with the need to address inequalities in health care, racism, and violence. Proposals discussed for Clinical Congress 2021 include tensions between surgeon obligations to patients and colleagues versus obligations to institutions, the integrity of peer review, genetic engineering, social media, errors that progress to litigation, the role of ethics consultations, influence and disclosure of industry relationships, and caring for difficult patients.

For details, contact Patrice Gabler Blair, Associate Director, Division of Education at

New RISE Article on Navigating the Educational Upheaval Due to COVID-19 Available

A new Resources in Surgical Education (RISE) article, “Navigating the Educational Upheaval Due to COVID-19,” by Paul H. Schenarts, MD, FACS, is now available. The purpose of this article is to provide practical guidance to educators and learners about the modifications educational authorities have made in response to COVID-19. The goals of national educational and regulatory agencies are to maintain patient and learner well-being, decrease learner anxiety, safeguard educational equity of resident applicants, and maintain requirements for medical school graduation and residency completion that ensure patient safety. To that end, numerous changes have been made to accommodate these new circumstances for medical students and residents.

The intended audience for this article includes general surgery program directors, general surgery clerkship directors, general surgery residents, medical students, and designated institutional officials. Specific learning objectives are as follows:

  • Outline the educational impact COVID-19 has had on medical students and general surgery residents
  • Summarize changes to the clinical experiences of medical students, the residency interview cycle, completion requirements for general surgery residency, and American Board of Surgery certification
  • Provide guidance to educational leaders and learners about the recent changes allowed by regulatory agencies as a result of COVID-19

The article is available on the RISE web page by selecting “Articles” on the left navigation pane.

Contact Krashina Hudson at or at 312-202-5335 for additional information.