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

The Communication Pulse: Leadership and Member Perspectives

100 Words

The recent Quality and Safety Conference had nearly 10,000 registrants from around the world. The program content was rich and extremely well received. Drs. Clifford Ko and David Hoyt and team worked tirelessly to create an exceptional educational online event with content that you can view for months to come. The cost of flying to a meeting, taking a taxi, dining out, not seeing patients in the office and operating, and being away from family is the price usually paid to fulfill our commitment to lifelong learning. We may be on to something having the Clinical Congress go VIRTUAL!

— Beth H. Sutton, MD, FACS, Chair, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents

— L. Scott Levin, MD, FACS, Vice-Chair, American College of Surgeons Board of Regents

Surgeon Voices

ACS Clinical Congress Highlights

In the weeks leading up to Clinical Congress, we are featuring interviews with various ACS members sharing what you can expect at this year’s free, virtual meeting.

In this issue, ACS Regent Steven D. Wexner, MD, FACS, FRCSEng, FRCSEd, FRCSI(Hon), FRCSGlasg(Hon), Director, Digestive Disease Center at Cleveland Clinic Florida in Weston, FL, interviews:

Responding to the Needs of Pediatric Surgeons: B.J. Hancock, MD, FACS, FRCSC, associate professor, departments of surgery and pediatrics and child health, University of Manitoba; pediatric surgeon and pediatric intensivist, Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, Man.; and ACS Regent, discusses the breadth of sessions, particularly for general and acute care surgeons; specific advantages of the Clinical Congress for a pediatric surgeon versus specialty meetings; the potential lasting effect of the virtual format once in-person meetings resume and more.

The Info Young Surgeons Need: Paula Ferrada, MD, FACS, FCCM, professor of surgery and medical director, surgical and trauma ICU, and director of the surgical critical care fellowship, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, discusses programming at the upcoming virtual Clinical Congress of interest to young surgeons; advantages of being able to access conference content asynchronously; appeal of the virtual conference to international surgeon; and more.

New Structure, Enduring Quality: Fabrizio Michelassi, MD, FACS, Lewis Atterbury Stimson Professor and Chairman, Weill Cornell Medicine; surgeon-in-chief, NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York; and ACS Regent, discusses the structure of the conference, including the five days of programming, virtual social and networking events, and navigation of the conference’s six content channels.

Other featured interviews this week include:

J. Wayne Meredith, MD, FACS, MCCM, Richard T. Myers Professor and Chairman, department of surgery, Wake Forest School of Medicine; medical director, The Children’s Institute for Pediatric Trauma, Winstom-Salem, N.C.; and ACS President-Elect, who discusses his ACS Quality and Safety Conference VIRTUAL Fireside Chat on the subject of racism with Selwyn M. Vickers, MD, FACS. Dr. Meredith explains some of the important concepts shared by Dr. Vickers, dean of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, such as the importance of being “color-bold”—understanding and valuing the different experiences that people of color have that make their histories and perspectives unique—rather than “color-blind” and pretending those differences don’t exist. Dr. Meredith also discusses broader themes of the Fireside Chat, including structural racism, implicit bias, privilege and more. Watch the Fireside Chat with your free registration to the Quality and Safety Conference.

Hari B. Keshava, MD, MS, assistant professor, thoracic surgery, division of cardiothoracic surgery, department of surgery, University of California, Irvine, and RAS-ACS Representative to the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC, who discusses his path to pursuing advocacy as a resident, the value of the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit, talking to colleagues about the importance of advocacy, and more.

Otolaryngologists’ Critical Role in Fighting COVID-19: The Pandemic’s Impact on the Specialty

by Dennis H. Kraus, MD, FACS, Chair, ACS Advisory Council for Otolaryngology−Head and Neck Surgery

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed the practice of otolaryngology−head and neck surgery at the forefront of this crisis. Many patients presented with symptoms referable to the head and neck region with anosmia, or loss of smell, representing a critical symptom in the onset of this disease. Because the pattern of spread of the disease has been associated with the upper aerodigestive tract, patients and physicians alike were placed at significant risk for contracting the disease in the clinical setting. A host of guidelines were quickly developed and implemented to protect patients and clinicians in both the workplace and general public.

Otolaryngologists played a critical role during the worst of the pandemic with active involvement in the intensive care setting and management of patients who required prolonged intubation and placement of tracheostomy in these critically ill patients. A large proportion of this population has gone on to recover from this devastating illness. A large segment of the population did not have access to ear, nose and throat care during the crisis, and active efforts are under way to return to normal practice patterns and provide the public with routine otolaryngology care.

Particularly challenging during the COVID-19 crisis was continuation of care for our head and neck cancer patients. An international consensus panel was convened and provided critical input in the evaluation and management of patients with head and neck cancer. The recommendations and manuscript were published July 1 in The Lancet and can serve as a valuable resource to all clinicians involved in the head and neck arena.

American Board of Surgery Develops Pathway to Successful Completion of Qualifying Exam

The American Board of Surgery sent an e-mail August 28 to qualifying exam (QE) candidates who experienced difficulties with the testing process in July, announcing that the board has developed a pathway to certification for 2020. The goal was to develop a solution that is equally accessible to all candidates, that is secure in terms of failure, that honors the negative experience the candidates had and that upholds the meaning and value of board certification.

As a first step, the 2020 general surgery QE has been rescheduled for Thursday, April 15, 2021, and will be administered at Pearson VUE exam centers across the U.S. In addition, QE eligibility will be extended by one year. If candidates choose not to take the QE during the 2020–2021 academic year, their seven-year exam admissibility period will begin July 1, 2021. The July 2021 QE will be delivered as scheduled, and candidates may take the exam when it better suits their needs.

This solution is based on input from candidates by phone, e-mail and social media, as well as four town hall discussions with approximately 800 candidates. Additional input came from roundtable discussions the ABS had with the Association of Program Directors in Surgery, the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons, the American Board of Medical Specialties, the ABS Board of Directors, the General Surgery Board of the ABS, the Assessment Committee of the ABS Council, and other stakeholders.

In recognition of the hardships candidates who sat for the July 2020 exam faced, they will receive a discount on the next exam. The ABS also is providing:

  • A one-year subscription to SCORE
  • Credit and identification monitoring for two years
  • Letters to employers upon request

In addition, accommodations are being made for candidates who want to take the general surgery certifying exam (CE) before taking the QE. Both exams will be required for certification. To minimize travel, general surgery CEs will be delivered virtually in the 2020–2021 academic year.

Details on how to register for the April or July 2021 QE and the 2021 CE will be available later in September. For details, view text FAQs and video FAQs.

What Can the Peach State and Volunteer State Chapters Teach Others about Virtual Chapter Meetings?

by Dennis Ashley, MD, FACS, President, Georgia Chapter, ACS; Ankit Patel, MD, FACS, Program Committee Chair, Georgia Chapter, ACS; Kathryn Browning, Chapter Administrator, Georgia Chapter, ACS; Robert Maxwell, MD, FACS, President, Tennessee Chapter, ACS; W. Heath Giles, MD, FACS, Program Committee Chair, Tennessee Chapter, ACS; and Wanda McKnight, CAE, Chapter Administrator, Tennessee Chapter, ACS

Tennessee and Georgia Chapter members were miles apart the morning of August 8, but many of them were engaged in the same activity – participating in the first virtual annual meetings for each chapter. Both chapters have historically held their annual meetings in late summer, but this year was very different in a couple of ways. One, the meetings were condensed from a weekend meeting to less than five hours; and two, they were delivered virtually via Zoom. Following is a summary of both chapters’ experience.

Where We Were Similar

  • A number of conference calls were held with the president, program chair, moderators, and guest speakers to ensure a clear understanding of the content and responsibilities, including speaker introductions, transitions, and Q & A plans.
  • Speakers received a link to a Dropbox folder to upload their slides and/or pre-recorded presentations. Although much of both meetings was conducted in real time, some sessions were prerecorded, and some speakers chose to prerecord their presentations as back-up in case of Internet connection issues.
  • The program booklet and business meeting materials were e-mailed to all the registered attendees before the meeting, along with the login instructions.
  • Effective moderating is key to success. Attendee questions were submitted via the “chat” function, which was monitored by the moderators of each session.
  • Both meetings were marketed as a member benefit and free to dues-paying members.
  • The meetings were recorded and, due to demand, made available on the chapter websites to members only.
  • Without exception, the speakers were fantastic.

Where We Were Different

The Peach State

  • Because of Georgia’s large and varied geography, population, and intense COVID-19 spread, the Program Committee quickly developed an agenda that was COVID-19-specific: Surgery in the Age of COVID-19: The Myth, The Science, The Reality.
  • To dedicate as much time as possible to the subject, the program committee chose to forgo the usual format and take advantage of the incredible knowledge, wisdom, and resources available locally. Although the trauma resident paper competition will take place at a later date, the business meeting was a live event.
  • A break was included in the meeting agenda—attendees at home need a break.
  • Although the real-time attendance was less than the usual in-person annual meeting, the demand for the recorded session has been significant.

The Volunteer State

  • The Annual Meeting subject matter was patterned after typical in-person meetings, but limited to COVID-19, quality issues identified by the TN Surgical Quality Collaborative, an ACS Update, a residents papers competition, and a prerecorded business meeting. A special treat was having ACS President-Elect J. Wayne Meredith, MD, FACS, join the meeting and deliver the ACS Update.
  • Resident abstract videos were submitted as poster presentations, and the top two in the general surgery and cancer categories were selected for full presentation. A total of 19 poster presentations were submitted (nine general surgery, 10 cancer). The four winning presentations were prerecorded, judged prior to the meeting date, and included in the annual meeting. The trauma papers competition is taking place separately this year.
  • 73 members participated, which is approximately the number of Fellows who have attended the in-person meeting in recent years. The number of residents who participated in the virtual meeting was substantially lower than normally seen for in-person meetings.

Attendees seemed sincerely pleased with the meetings and happy to see each other on Zoom. Initial feedback was positive and consistently followed by comments indicating a wish to gather in person for the 2021 annual meetings. The networking advantage of an in-person chapter meeting cannot be overestimated. Both chapters extend a special thank you to the ACS Division of Education staff for their help and guidance.