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

May 2014

In This Issue

Message from the Chair
Limited Number of 2014–2015 Positions Still Available for TTP Program
Young Fellows Association Video Documentary
Annual RAS-ACS Essay Contest
RAS-ACS International Exchange Program
Join the Symposium Debate
Register for the General Surgery Review Course
RAS-ACS Committee Reports
          Advocacy and Issues Committee
          Communications Committee
          Education Committee
          Membership Committee
Liaisons Reports
          Women in Surgery Committee
          Commission on Cancer
          Board of Governors Surgical Training Workgroup
           Board of Governors Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards Workgroup
          Board of Governors Patient Education Workgroup
          Committee on Medical Student Education
Advisory Council Reports
          Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery
          Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery

Message from the Chair

This is an exciting time to be a part of the Resident and Associate Society of the American College of Surgeons (RAS-ACS). Throughout our history, RAS-ACS has been an enthusiastic and energetic organization. More than ever before, today we have the support and resources needed to turn that enthusiasm and energy into initiatives that will fulfill our promise as the future of the ACS. One need only review our committee projects to see this in action. The Advocacy and Issues Committee is working to bring us the tools and knowledge that we need to effectively communicate with our elected officials on behalf of our patients. The Communications Committee uses cutting-edge efforts to share information and continues to improve as we prepare to roll out a revamped section of the new ACS website. The Education Committee is developing a spectacular Surgical Jeopardy Tool Kit that will invigorate the ACS chapters. The Membership Committee is taking RAS-ACS on the road, reaching out to current and potential members by meeting them on their turf, whether through attending a specialty society meeting or sending ambassadors through the International Exchange Program. These activities will benefit not only Residents and Associate Fellows—but we are at the frontline of building the positive relationships that will lead to thousands of surgeons becoming lifelong members of the ACS. As your Chair, I encourage you to continue to come up with ways to improve our existing efforts and to conceive and develop the next great idea. You are the future of the ACS, and tomorrow comes today!

Robert D. Winfield, MD
Chair, RAS-ACS
Assistant professor of surgery
Washington University in St. Louis (MO)

Monthly Conference Call Schedule

Advocacy and Issues: first Wednesday
Communications: second Wednesday
Membership: third Wednesday
Education: fourth Wednesday
Call-in: 866-434-7675 | Access: 7287911
All calls will take place at 9:00 pm (Eastern time)

Limited Number of 2014–2015 Positions Available for TTP Program

A limited number of positions are still available for the 2014-2015 ACS Transition to Practice (TTP) Program, an initiative of the ACS Division of Education that assists in the transition from surgery residency into independent practice. TTP Associates are mentored by established general surgeons and gain additional experience through graduated autonomy over a one-year period. Although every TTP site offers a common program structure, each TTP Associate crafts unique experiences based on his or her specific needs and goals. Learn more on the ACS website or contact for more information or to submit your curriculum vitae.

Young Fellows Association Video Documentary

How many times have you been asked to give a talk about work/life balance and family dynamics as a young surgeon? Who better to speak on this topic than our families!

The Young Fellows Association, in conjunction with the RAS-ACS, has announced a call for young surgeons to participate in a video documentary interviewing the families of surgeons. Please interview your children, your spouse, your significant other, even your pets.

All video clips will be submitted to Rebecca Britt, MD, FACS, for editing. They may be submitted in any format, including video shot on your phone.

We have provided a sample of possible questions to ask your family members. Please feel free to add questions.

For children

  • What does your mom or dad do for work?
  • Do you think you’d like to become a surgeon too?
  • Is your parent able to go to events, like your games and plays?
  • Have you ever gone to work with your surgeon parent?
  • What is the coolest part about having a surgeon parent?
  • Do your friends get to do things you don’t because your parent is a surgeon? For example, climb to the top of the tree, ride your bike without a helmet? Or are you still sitting in a car seat at the age of 10?
  • What is the worst part of having a surgeon parent?

For spouses and significant others

  • What is it like to have a surgeon significant other? What is the good and the bad?
  • How do the pressures of the surgeon’s workplace affect you?

Please e-mail Dr. Rebecca Britt at for submission instructions.

Annual RAS-ACS Essay Contest

The RAS-ACS Communications Committee's sixth annual essay contest is now open to all RAS-ACS members. This year’s theme is “When I Want to Quit and Why I Don’t.” Participants are asked to write an essay of 500 words or less, describing an overwhelming situation that led them to consider veering away from their career plans. The life of a surgeon is extremely demanding both physically and emotionally. The making of a surgeon involves medical mastery, surgical judgment, technical skills, and a compassionate personality. But how easy is that? This essay should focus on a unique personal situation for the surgeon. Selected essays will be published in the ACS Bulletin and the top essayist will receive a cash award of $500 at the 2014 Clinical Congress.

The deadline for essay submissions is May 1, 2014.

Please e-mail all submissions with contact information—including e-mail address, phone number, mailing address, PGY level, and program—to

RAS-ACS International Exchange Program

Open to ACS Residents and Associate Fellows Members in the U.S. and Canada

The RAS-ACS Membership Committee continues its efforts to promote international exchange through the International Exchange Program. This year, we are offering the opportunity for four RAS-ACS members to be selected to travel to four host nations where the selected international exchange scholar will attend the host country’s surgical society meeting and learn about the surgical opportunities and systems abroad. The host nations this year are Australia, Ireland, Italy, and Lebanon.

Society Meeting Dates

Italy, Rome, October 12–15, 2014
Ireland, Dublin, November 10–14, 2014
Australia/New Zealand, Perth, May 4–9, 2015
Lebanon, Beirut, meeting dates will be announced

Interested ACS Residents and Associate Fellows should send an e-mail to with their name, phone, e-mail, institution, PGY level, and a short essay (300 words) describing why they think they should be selected and how they believe this opportunity will influence them and their future endeavors in surgery. In addition, please list in order of preference their choice of nation. Applications are due Friday, May 2 at 5:00 pm CDT. The RAS-ACS Membership Committee will review the essays and select the final participants by the end of May.

This opportunity is made possible through the generosity of the ACS International Relations Committee and the RAS-ACS. The participants will receive a $2,500 stipend to cover airfare and expenses.

This program is reciprocated with the host nations as we will be hosting four scholars at the Clinical Congress in San Francisco, CA, this year. This is a great opportunity to foster international relations and promote international friendship. If you have any questions, please contact

Join the Symposium Debate

This year's RAS-ACS Symposium will take place on Sunday, October 26, from 3:00 to 5:30 pm as part of the 2014 Clinical Congress at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, CA, and will feature a topic focused on the future of general surgical training—“Five-Year General Surgery Residency: Fix It or Flush It?” As we enter into unchartered health care territory, many questions and fears, and much speculation are emerging with regard to the future of postgraduate education. The Affordable Care Act (ACA), reimbursement, and distribution of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education funds will have lasting effects on surgical training. The question is: How will we keep up? Are we able to adapt or will we put up blinders, and wait for things to return to the way they once were? This session will be followed by audience questions and discussion.

We invite ACS Resident Members and Associate Fellows to join the debate and submit their opinions on this topic. First-place winners for both the “reform” versus “revolution” positions will be invited to present their viewpoints on the topic regarding general surgery residency training. Second, third, and fourth-place winners will have their submissions published in the ACS Bulletin.

Submission Information

  • Maximum 1,000-word essay in a Word document
  • References not required, but preferred
  • Include name, facility, city, state, phone, and e-mail

Submissions are due Friday, May 2, at 5:00 pm CDT to

For questions, please contact

Register for the General Surgery Review Course

The ACS Comprehensive General Surgery Review Course provides a three-and-a-half-day intensive review of the essential content areas in general surgery. The course will be offered again this year on June 19–22 in Chicago, IL. Course Chair John A. Weigelt, MD, DVM, FACS, and a distinguished faculty will use a combination of didactic and case-based formats to create an efficient review, while enhancing understanding and retention. Dr. Weigelt is Medical Director of the ACS Surgical Education and Self-Assessment Program (SESAP®) and a professor of surgery, chief of the division of trauma and critical care, and associate dean of clinical quality at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Self-assessment materials, such as pre- and posttests, are also used. In addition, following the course, monthly review modules are provided electronically and address content beyond what is provided in the course, supply any needed updates, help keep participants engaged in learning, and offer a forum for continued interaction with faculty. The course helps fulfill the requirements for Maintenance of Certification Part 2 and should be helpful in preparing for recertification examinations. Self-assessment credit will be available.

Expert faculty for the course are nationally renowned surgeons with expertise in developing and teaching review courses addressing topics within the essential content areas in general surgery, including:

  • Abdomen
  • Alimentary Tract
  • Endocrine
  • Oncology
  • Perioperative Care
  • Skin and Breast
  • Surgical Critical Care
  • Trauma
  • Vascular
  • Other Specialty-Related Areas

Successful completion of this course allows the opportunity to earn a maximum of 30 AMA PRA Category 1 CreditsTM. Visit the ACS website to learn more about the Comprehensive General Surgery Review Course or contact Ulrike Langenscheidt at, or 312-202-5018.

RAS-ACS Committee Reports

Advocacy and Issues Committee

The Advocacy and Issues Committee reports a successful 2014 Leadership & Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. Sessions on advocacy, scholarships, leadership, and networking were followed by meetings with lawmakers and state representatives.

The Committee is preparing for the RAS-ACS Symposium at the 2014 Clinical Congress, in San Francisco, CA. The topic is current and controversial—“The Five-Year General Surgery Residency: Fix It or Flush It—Reform or Revolution of our Educational System?” We are compiling a list of compelling speakers. For the symposium, we have asked Residents and Young Fellows for essay submissions on this topic. The prizes for the top essays will include a presentation at the Clinical Congress symposium or publication in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons.

Finally, our committee is close to completing a highly pertinent article on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) exploring the implications of the ACA for surgical residents. Watch for the article in the July Bulletin.

As always, we encourage anyone who is interested in health care policy to log on to (log in with ACS member ID and last name), which offers free and reliable information on current issues in health care as well as ways to get involved.

Anyone interested in the Advocacy and Issues Committee is invited to call in on the first Wednesday of each month at 9:00 pm (ET) or contact committee leadership.

Corey Wright, MD
Chair, RAS-ACS Advocacy and Issues Committee
Critical care surgery
Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC

Communications Committee

Our gathering at Buffalo Billiards during the 2014 Leadership & Advocacy Summit proved most enjoyable. We offer many thanks to the Executive Committee for bringing us all together.

The 2014 RAS-ACS essay contest is still on! Submit an essay describing a situation that led you to consider quitting surgery and the reasons you did not and will not quit for a chance to win $500!

Our Facebook page has almost 1,500 likes! Follow @RASACS on Twitter to be informed about opportunities, news, and RAS-ACS updates.

The four RAS-ACS standing committees have nearly completed their work on articles for the August Bulletin as well as exciting content for the new ACS website.

Please join us on our next call or send an e-mail to me. Our conference calls are on the second Wednesday of each month at 9:00 pm ET.

Konstantinos P. Economopoulos, MD, PhD
Chair, RAS-ACS Communications Committee
Research fellow in surgery
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA

Education Committee

Efforts to Surgical Jeopardy to local chapters has begun. The Education Committee created a tool kit, which was demonstrated at the Leadership & Advocacy Summit, and received positive comments. The next step is to identify a handful of enthusiastic chapters that will pilot test the kit and provide feedback to work out any kinks before a nationwide rollout.

The results of the RAS-ACS Learning Styles Survey were presented at Surgical Education Week and received enthusiastically. Members of the committee continue to work on articles for the August Bulletin. Please call in the fourth Wednesday of each month and get involved.

Feibi Zheng, MD
Chair, RAS-ACS Education Committee
General surgery resident
The Methodist Hospital, Houston, TX

Membership Committee

The Membership Committee announces that the third International Exchange Program is under way. The deadline for applications is approaching, and we encourage interested RAS-ACS members to apply. An article in the April 2014 ACS Bulletin describes a number of the details and benefits of the program. We urge you to read it.

Additionally, the Leadership & Advocacy Summit was a very successful venue for our committee to participate at the Member Services table, where we provided information about RAS-ACS.

Please join us on our next call or e-mail us. Our conference calls are on the third Wednesday of each month at 9:00 pm ET.

Konstantinos Spaniolas, MD
Chair, RAS-ACS Membership Committee
Assistant professor
East Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Liaisons Reports


At the ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit, the RAS awarded 70 ACS traveling scholarships for attendance, the most ever. The Leadership Summit challenged attendees with a dynamic presentation on Emotional Intelligence and provided participants the opportunity to meet and discuss opportunities for growth of state-based advocacy efforts. The Advocacy Summit included a presentation by ACS President Carlos Pellegrini, MD, FACS, FRCSI(Hon), and a visit from Rep. Michael Burgess, MD, (R-TX), a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist, and many other high-profile speakers. The ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC also organized a well-attended private tour of the International Spy Museum complete with a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent as a speaker. The legislative visits on Capitol Hill on April 1 were the pinnacle of the conference. RAS-ACS members met with legislative staff members to discuss surgeon-specific issues, such as the sustainable growth rate, trauma systems funding, and graduate medical education. Many attendees even had the opportunity to meet directly with their representative or senator.

If you were unable to attend the Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC, you can still participate. Visit to learn more about policy issues that will affect your patients. This site will put you in contact with your elected officials. You can send an e-mail (there are even prewritten ones you can use and edit as you see fit) and find their DC and home district phone numbers and addresses. This site will allow you to make a difference! If you were able to attend Advocacy Day, please remember to send a follow-up letter or e-mail to the individual you met thanking them for their time and reminding them of your conversation.

The ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC is the non-partisan political action committee affiliated with the American College of Surgeons and an important way to advocate on behalf of surgical patients. If you have not joined, check out the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC and consider joining. There are reduced contribution levels just for RAS-ACS members. For those of you who are already ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC contributors thank you, and it is not too early to renew your ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC membership for the 2015 calendar year! This year, the ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC Leadership Council will be launched. Keep an eye out for information about becoming founding members of this council.

If you have any questions regarding SurgeonsVoice, and how you can become more involved with advocacy within RAS-ACS or at the state level, contact Amy Liepert, MD, the RAS-ACS representative to the ACS Health Policy and Advocacy Council at

Brian J. Gavitt, MD, MPH
ACSPA-SurgeonsPAC Liaison
General surgery resident physician
UC Davis Medical Center, Sacramento, CA

Women in Surgery Committee

The Women in Surgery Committee (WiSC) recently met in Washington, DC, at the Leadership & Advocacy Summit to discuss our ongoing projects.

  • WiSC Mentorship Program: This program matches women general surgeons in their first or second year of academic practice with established women surgeons who serve as mentors for one year. The program has been quite successful this year. If you are finishing training and are interested in participating in the mentorship program, look for a call for applications in upcoming issues of ACS NewsScope.
  • Committee structure and mission: We are working to formalize the application process to join the committee and to standardize expectations for committee members while advocating for increased transparency by the College with regard to committee membership.
  • Awards subcommittee: We are working to create a centralized list of research and clinical awards, as well as a list of women surgeons worthy of these professional awards to help facilitate the nomination process.
  • Education and Leadership Guide development: Work continues on the development of a Leadership Guide written by members of the committee. This guide will be available at the 2014 Clinical Congress in October. Additionally, we recorded our first podcasts and are working to determine the best process for editing and distributing these recordings. Our aim is to create a series of podcasts that are conversational in nature and provide guidance regarding how to become involved in the College.
  • Clinical Congress: We are finalizing plans for the three panel sessions at this year’s Clinical Congress. Sessions will include The Great Work-Life Debates, The Surgeon as Artist, and Family-Planning Issues in Residency and Beyond.

If you have any ideas you would like to share or would like more information about the committee’s activities, please feel free to contact me.

Shannon N. Acker, MD
Women in Surgery Committee Liaison
General Surgery
University of Colorado

Commission on Cancer

The Commission on Cancer (CoC) has been developing cancer quality metrics. The design and the appropriate use of these quality metrics will also be an important topic of discussion for the CoC Spring Meeting, May 1–2. Additionally, the National Cancer Data Base (NCDB), the nationwide oncology outcomes database of the CoC, is currently accepting applications for investigators at CoC-accredited cancer programs for data.

Thomas C. Tsai, MD, MPH
Commission on Cancer Liaison
Department of Surgery
Brigham and Women's Hospital
Harvard Medical School

Board of Governors Surgical Training Workgroup

The workgroup has been working on two major projects. The first is the development of a standardized letter of recommendation (SLOR) form for applicants to general surgery residency programs. The desire to pursue this project came out of workgroup members’ frustrations with the current letters of recommendation. A standardized letter would provide greater clarity and consistency for references, and provide a means for obtaining additional information on how well the reference knows the applicant. A draft SLOR template uses data from ENT and emergency medicine (fields which have established SLOR programs). This draft letter has been sent to ACS Division of Education Director Ajit Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, for review. Next steps will be to determine the best method for disseminating and completing these letters (for example,  a Web-based option) and to seek support from the Association of Program Directors in Surgery and the Association for Surgical Education to develop requirements for applicants and letter writers to use this SLOR.

The second project is the development of a Surgeons as Educators (SAE) pilot curriculum. The current SAE course is offered nationally by the ACS. The goal for this project is to develop a more mobile platform to enable chapters to roll out a mini SAE course at the local level. Four proposed modules for this curriculum are currently being developed.

Chris Scally, MD
Board of Governors’ Surgical Training Workgroup Liaison
General surgery
University of Michigan

Board of Governors Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards Workgroup

Nominations are currently being reviewed for the 2014 ACS/Pfizer Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards, which recognizes surgeons who give back to society and contribute to surgical care through organized volunteer and sustained humanitarian activities. There are truly some inspirational nominations this year, so mark your calendars to attend the Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Award session at the Clinical Congress.

Robin Petroze, MD
Board of Governors Surgical Volunteerism and Humanitarian Awards Workgroup Liaison
General surgery
University of Virginia

Board of Governors Patient Education Workgroup

The Board of Governors Patient Education Workgroup had a conference call in December and met in person in Washington, DC, at the Leadership & Advocacy Summit. We are working on a Patient Education Survey for distribution to ACS members. The survey is currently 24-questions long, asks for demographic information, and serves as a basis for a needs assessment regarding patient education materials and content. We assess what surgeons currently use to educate patients, and then solicit feedback on what ACS could create that would be helpful, such as print or electronic materials, iPad apps, online decision aids, skills training, or a Web portal. We also ask surgeons which procedures are in greatest need for ACS patient education materials. The survey will likely be sent out over the next few months after institutional board review approval is obtained and the survey is finalized.

Scott Grant, MD
Board of Governors Patient Education Workgroup Liaison
General surgery
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Committee on Medical Student Education

The Committee on Medical Student Education will work on the Medical Student Program for the 2014 Clinical Congress. We look forward to engaging the future minds of surgery through our poster presentation contest, panels on Lifestyles in Surgery and Getting into Residency, and more.

Priya Iyer, MD
Committee on Medical Student Education Liaison
General surgery
Cleveland Clinic Foundation Program, OH

Advisory Council Reports

Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery

In conjunction with the ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit, the Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery held a productive spring meeting on March 29. Topics included efforts to optimize resources for children’s surgical care in the U.S. This is an ongoing effort that is gaining momentum and may result in creation of a verification system at the national level. Other topics discussed included approval of an ACS statement on management of fatigue and efforts to increase resident involvement in RAS-ACS as well as various pediatric surgical specialty societies.

Programs for the 2014 Clinical Congress are well into development and include several topics involving transition of care from the pediatric to adult health system, ultrasound for pediatric surgeons, surgical management of diseases such as adrenal masses in children and adults, and controversies in obesity surgery and adolescents.

Residents and Fellows interested in pediatric surgery may become resident members of the American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA); APSA dues are waived and membership provides access to educational opportunities, white papers, and helpful information, and opportunities for networking and collaboration with APSA members. This membership is also associated with an annual meeting discount as well as a discount to the Journal of Pediatric Surgery. Those interested should e-mail or download an application from the APSA website.

The next meeting of the Surgical Section of the American Academy of Pediatric (AAP) will take place October 11–14 in San Diego, CA. Abstract deadlines for the AAP meeting are in mid-April.

If anyone is interested in becoming more active in RAS-ACS or has questions or concerns that you would like to have voiced to the Advisory Council, please contact me at

Mehul Raval, MD
Advisory Council for Pediatric Surgery Liaison
Pediatric surgery fellow, Nationwide Children's Hospital
The Ohio State University School of Medicine, Westerville

Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery

The ACS Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery met on April 6 during the annual American Association of Plastic Surgeons meeting in Miami, FL. The Advisory Council represents the interests of the multifaceted profession of plastic surgery.

This group strives to create multidisciplinary education sessions at each ACS Clinical Congress, addressing topics that involve general surgeons, otolaryngologists, orthopaedists, and plastic surgeons. The issues include breast cancer, abdominal wall reconstruction, limb salvage, and wound healing. At the most recent meeting, we discussed topics for presentation at the 2015 Clinical Congress.

We also addressed two larger issues affecting more than one surgical subspecialty: (1) care of the pediatric patient younger than one year old in non-pediatric hospitals and (2) how to deal with surgeon fatigue at the attending level. This latter issue is of particular relevance to the RAS-ACS because of the high level of attention to resident fatigue in the 80-hour workweek. The Advisory Council was interested in the experience of residents who operated with attending surgeons who may be fatigued from operating the night before. The personal experience of this liaison is similar to that of recent literature: Operating electively the day after a night of being on call seems to have no negative effects on patient outcome.

The Advisory Council also came up with the top 10 reasons a plastic surgeon should join the ACS. Nine of the top 10 related to different forms of advocacy. The 10th reason is to facilitate networking and leadership education among residents and junior surgeons.

The next meeting of the Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery will take place during the American Society of Plastic Surgeons annual meeting in early October in Chicago. Another important meeting to note was held March 7–9 in New York, NY, by the Plastic Surgery Research Council. Always an exhilarating meeting, it showcased the cutting-edge advances in basic science with clinical applications from plastic surgery researchers from around the world.

Christian Vercler, MD
Advisory Council for Plastic and Maxillofacial Surgery Liaison
Plastic and reconstructive surgery
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

RAS-ACS Executive Board

Rob Winfield, MD, Chair
Joseph Sakran, MD, Vice-Chair
Maya Babu, MD, Secretary
Brian Santin, MD, Ex-Officio

RAS-ACS Governing Board

Aaron Baker, MD
Ryan Cuff, MD
Megan Durr, MD
Konstantinos Economopoulos, MD
Gerald Gantt, MD
Michael Johnson, MD
Mehul Raval, MD
Lauren Smithson, MD
Renée Solomon, MD
Dino Spaniolas, MD
Stephen Torres, MD
Christian Vercler, MD
Elliot Wakeam, MD
Corey Wright, MD
Feibi Zheng, MD