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

Message from the Chair

Rebecca L. Hoffman, MD, MSCE
Colorectal Surgery Fellow, Washington University in Saint Louis
Chair, RAS-ACS

Advocacy Equals Change

Brett Tracy, MDThe opioid epidemic, Stop the Bleed, #ThisIsOurLane—these are all now common phrases in the surgical vernacular as a result of physicians advocating for patients. As suggested by Earnest et al (2010), physician advocacy promotes social, economic, educational, and political changes that ameliorate the suffering and threats to human health and well-being that a physician identifies through his or her professional work and expertise. While spearheading such national campaigns or movements seems formidable, the suffering of well-being is plausible and often inadvertently transpires, especially if one is passionate about an issue. I believe that zeal and resiliency are the only prerequisites for successful advocacy and for most surgeons, these qualities are intrinsic to our nature. Whether it is writing a letter to a local congressman, organizing a performance improvement project at your hospital, or lobbying on the Hill for health care reform, choose something that stirs you to action, stick with it, and remember that even the slightest progress is a victory for patient care.

“Perseverance is a great element of success. If you knock long enough and loud enough at the gate, you are sure to wake up somebody.” ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Brett Tracy, MD
Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Fellow (PGY-6)
Emory University School of Medicine
ACS Health Policy Advisory Council and General Surgery Coding and Reimbursement Committee Liaison

In Advocacy, Relationships Matter

Mark Kashtan, MDThe ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit is coming up. Next month, hundreds of surgeons and surgical residents will descend on Capitol Hill to advocate for issues vital to our patients and our profession. If you’ve never done it, meeting with your elected representative or their staff is a critically important part of advocacy, and it’s pretty fun, too. Whether or not you have time to travel to Washington, DC for events like the Leadership and Advocacy Summit, there are myriad opportunities to meet with your state and local representatives closer to home. These meetings can be just as powerful, if not more so.

Advocacy, at its heart, is all about relationships. While it’s exciting to meet with a U.S. representative or senator, it can be difficult to stand out amongst their thousands or millions of other constituents. In the case of your state representative, you may be one of only a few thousand, and the laws they consider are more likely to directly affect your day-to-day life and surgical practice. These are where opportunities exist to make a powerful difference.

Some people go to these meetings and are discouraged that they met with a staff member instead of the representative, or that they left a meeting without any firm support for a law or idea they were advocating for. They shouldn’t be! To start with, legislative aides are the key to a lawmaker’s policy positions. While all representatives have their pet issues, many have few or weakly held opinions on issues outside of their normal purview. Legislative aides are in charge of knowing everything about their issue area, and are also in charge of educating the representative and helping them form opinions on legislation. Don’t be surprised if you put a bug in the ear of a legislative aide during a meeting on a health care bill, that they go and pass it right along to their boss the next time they are discussing the topic.

It’s difficult to change someone’s mind in the course of a single meeting. There are so many competing priorities and demands on a representative’s time that new ideas or directions don’t emerge without a lot of thought and discussion. But what you can do is develop a relationship, and that relationship is where the real value lies. If you show you know your stuff or have a compelling story, don’t be surprised if your representative’s office reaches out to you later on your issue or a related one. Maybe it’s for advice, maybe it’s to testify in front of a committee, or maybe it’s even for help on a campaign (hey, it worked for Atul Gawande, MD, FACS). These relationships are where the real power comes from, so if you haven’t yet, go meet your representatives! If you don’t want to go alone, go with your state’s ACS Chapter Advocacy Day, or join the ACS Health Policy Advisory Council and they’ll set you up. The relationships you build now can benefit the rest of your career.

Mark Kashtan, MD
General Surgery Resident, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
RAS-ACS Legislative Committee Liaison

Congratulations to the 2019 Leadership Scholarship Winners

Sharven Taghavi, MD, MPH, MS

Sharven Taghavi, MD, MPH, MS
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Tulane University School of Medicine, Division of Trauma and Critical Care

Dr. Taghavi is the winner of the scholarship for the Surgeons as Leaders: From Operating Room to Boardroom course, which will be held April 28-May 1, 2019, in Durham, NC. 

Ravi Viradia, MD

Ravi Viradia, MD
Chief, General Surgery Residency
West Virginia University

Dr. Viradia will be attending the Quality and Safety Conference, July 19-22, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Diane Haddad, MD

Diane Haddad, MD
General Surgery Resident
T32 Research Fellow, MPH Candidate
Vanderbilt University Medical Center

Dr. Haddad will be attending the Leadership and Advocacy Summit, March 29-April 2, 2019, in Washington, DC.

Jeremy D. Kauffman, MD

Jeremy D. Kauffman, MD
Research Fellow, Division of Pediatric Surgery, Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital
General Surgery Resident, Department of Surgery, UPMC Pinnacle

Dr. Kauffman will be attending the Residents as Teachers and Leaders Course, March 29-31, 2019, in Chicago, IL.