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

Letter from the Editor

Russell J. NautaRussell J. Nauta, MD, FACS
Governor, American Surgical Association (ASA)
Editor, The Cutting Edge: News and Notes from the Board of Governors

October is upon us in Boston, MA, and with it, the first Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to be held in our city since 1950. While I cannot provide you with a new car for $1,510, gas to make it run at 24 cents a gallon, and a new home starting at $7,300, as was the case when the ACS last met here, we again hope to gather and do what we do best—compare what we’re doing clinically; talk about how to educate, define the direction of future surgical research, and determine our best use of resources; and, somehow, get the word out as to what was discussed.

At its core, the Clinical Congress is about communication, a concept so important it merits its own pillar in the reorganization of Governors’ efforts orchestrated by Dr. Lena Napolitano several years ago. Characteristically, surgical communication has been direct—whether in our morbidity and mortality conferences, in our hospital boardrooms, or in our advocacy efforts. And, the Clinical Congress has reflected this over the years. Our resident and student guests are now treated to the full spectrum of surgeons’ engagement in a dynamic field in which the discussions offer everything but ambiguity. I remember clearly noting the lack of ambiguity in the discussion of papers presented at the Forum, and the meticulous data collection and optimism that morphed the rapid growth of transplantation in Colorado and then Pittsburgh, PA. We were warned in this meeting and in others that we’d have nobody to do trauma surgery unless we sought a new paradigm, and a new paradigm appeared. We’ve tried to figure out whether surgical subspecialty training, rural surgery training, and training to be an academic surgeon are all the same, or whether they’re different. Most recently, we’ve had open and frank discussions about the maintenance of certification and whether surgeons’ involvement in such issues as gun legislation and immigration should be at the individual or organizational level. We’ve seen operations get bigger, then smaller, and tried to figure out how to credential, scrutinize, and recertify ourselves. We’ve warmed up to the idea of multidisciplinary care where such an approach is appropriate and asserted surgeon primacy where it is not. All at the Clinical Congress, and all with communication of the direct variety.

Dr. Tyler Hughes continues his work with the online ACS Communities pages, a nimble format where surgeons can post questions, advocate on behalf of the profession, and do so on a timely basis. As noted above, surgical communication tends to be direct, and with respect to issues such as recertification, gun violence, and (most recently) immigration, Dr. Hughes has welcomed the directness while maintaining the civility and respectful nature of the discourse.

In this issue of our newsletter, I call your attention to expansion of the College’s footprint, as exemplified by the description of the Jamaica Chapter. We’ve tried to get you a complete list of the Governors’ events, and highlighted the Governors’ Survey, so ably executed by others in our Communications Pillar.

A newsletter is a slow form of communication to those of us used to a 24-hour news cycle; it’s always a little bit behind, but it provides a convenient way of summarizing things. The Governors’ Survey has the same problem, though the topics chosen are always timely. I’ve wondered out loud in some of our sessions as to whether we could use the survey, or a survey-like instrument, to somehow “take the temperature” of the Fellows regarding issues on which the College plans a statement. A corollary of this is whether instruments like the Cutting Edge should be available to all Fellows and not just the Governors.

So come to Boston on behalf of yourself and those you represent. Whether it’s a Town Hall, the Forum, the Panel Sessions, the Postgraduate Courses, or the opportunity to buttonhole a College officer and speak your mind, there will be something here for you. Raise your hand in the sessions. Raise your glass with your colleagues. Raise questions about the direction of your practice, or your profession, or your interaction with your legislators, hospitals, insurers, and regulators. Throw some tea in the harbor. Come to Boston.

Russell J. Nauta, MD, FACS

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Russell J. Nauta, MD, FACS
B/G Newsletter Editor
Chair, Newsletter Workgroup