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

Committee Updates and Reflections

Update from the Advocacy and Issues Committee

Christopher McNicoll

The Advocacy and Issues Committee has continued to prepare for the 2019 RAS Symposium at Clinical Congress. We had an impressive number of essays submitted this year on the topic of Shiftwork Surgery: Loss of Continuity or Sensible Balance of Responsibility. The faculty participating in the Symposium have been selected, and include the speakers Kenneth Mattox, MD, FACS, and Sharmila Dissanaike, MD, FACS. Past ACS President Barbara Bass, MD, FACS, will serve as the moderator. Our subcommittees are currently working on projects covering topics like firearm injury, diversity in surgical trials, payment patterns affecting GME funding, and the opioid epidemic. The Leadership and Advocacy Summit was a big success this year. Residents had the opportunity to attend a leadership workshop to kick off the leadership portion of the summit. RAS members also attended a breakfast event to learn about the current legislative issues on the ACS agenda and later met with their state representatives to discuss these issues. Join us on our conference calls the first Wednesday of every month or email me if you are interested in participating in any of our ongoing projects. 

Christopher McNicoll, MD
Chair, Advocacy & Issues Committee

Update from the Communications Committee

Chrystal Johnson-MannThank you to everyone who participated in the annual Communications Committee essay contest! The winner will be announced in July, and the winning essay will be published in the ACS Bulletin.

We are also busy putting the finishing touches on the RAS section for the August
Bulletin. We have some great topics to share with you all this summer!

If you are a member of RAS and are interested in participating in a quick video interview about your involvement in RAS at an upcoming surgical society meeting, please let us know via social media or email. Follow @RASACS on Twitter and Facebook for updates! If you're interested in learning more about how to get involved in RAS, please email for more information. We hope to hear from you soon!

Chrystal Johnson-Mann, MD
Chair, Communications Committee

Update from the Education Committee

Hari KeshavaThe RAS-Education Committee has been extremely busy this year with multiple projects. We are continuing to prepare for Clinical Congress, where we will put on the So You Think You Can Operate: Surgical Skills Competition and Surgical Jeopardy. Our subcommittees are working very hard to make both of these sessions successful again this year. We continue our monthly phone calls where we discuss new surgical education papers and research and we hear different viewpoints from all of our members about educational topics. Lastly, we have been working on a plethora of new projects from putting together a joint YouTube/Podcast with Behind the Knife about seminal papers to a multicenter study assessing surgical resident usage of electronic medical records. We are a very busy committee with many different projects devoted to surgical education. If any of this sounds fun and interesting, join our monthly call!

Hari B. Keshava, MD, MS

Chair, Education Committee

Leadership Scholarship Winner Attends Surgeon as Leaders Course

Sharven TaghaviThe RAS Leadership Scholarship Program annually awards four resident members so they can attend one of four ACS courses. Supported since 2004 by the Jeannette and H. Peter Kriendler Charitable Trust, the program has been dedicated to supporting the training of young surgeons. This year, Sharven Taghavi, MD, was selected to attend the ACS Surgeons as Leaders: From Operating Room to Boardroom Course, which was held April 28 – May 1 in Durham, NC. Here are his thoughts about the course.

Upon arrival in Raleigh/Durham, I was excited to be hearing from legends in the field of surgery. As I registered for the course, I realized that this was a true opportunity to have discussions with prominent leaders in the field to discuss how they have handled leadership challenges in the past.

On the first day, ACS Past President Andrew Warshaw, MD, FACS, told us about the importance of developing leadership skills in our everyday lives. While some people may be natural born leaders, everyone has the potential to lead at some level, and leadership skills can be acquired and improved upon. One major point of emphasis was that it is impossible for someone to have all the skills necessary of a complete leader. Recognizing your own weaknesses as a leader and surrounding yourself with colleagues who make up for the skills that you lack is a key component of being successful.

On the second day, we had our first small group session. This allowed us to interact and have frank discussions about leadership challenges such as managing difficult people and recognizing burnout. The small group sessions allowed for participants to pick the brains of established leaders and hear about strategies that were successful for them in the past. The faculty also spoke honestly and openly about past mistakes that they had learned from. I found that the most valuable part of the course was being involved in these discussions, as there are probably very few leadership challenges that this distinguished group of faculty has not encountered over the course of their careers. L.D. Britt, MD, FACS, spoke passionately about leaders in the field of surgery promoting diversity and access to care for all populations. The second day ended with dinner and a celebration of the 15th anniversary of the ACS Surgeons as Leaders Course.

On the third day, we discussed how leaders can help establish change. Changing culture is one of the most difficult things a leader can do and different strategies were offered to be successful. Julie Freischlag, MD, FACS, and Melina Kibbe, MD, FACS, spoke on the importance of leaders promoting inclusion and diversity. On the final day of the course, we learned how to be a leader in quality metrics, while Dr. Warshaw discussed the importance of leadership in advocacy. It was striking to hear how few surgeons’ voices are being heard in Washington, DC.

As an early career surgeon, the RAS scholarship allowed me to network and interact with people at all career stages and differing surgical disciplines. I met people working in both academic and community settings and we discussed the leadership challenges unique to both situations. This gave me new perspective as I embark on my career as a surgeon. I would not only recommend this class to other early career surgeons, but I hope that I can take the course again later in my career.