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

Welcome to the spring 2017 edition of The Cutting Edge: News and Notes from the Board of Governors. In this issue you’ll find a number of interesting stories, including the following highlights.

In honor of Black History Month this past February, American College of Surgeons (ACS) Archivist Meghan Kennedy reviews the career of Helen Octavia Dickens, MD, FACS, the College’s first female African-American Fellow, who was elected to Fellowship in 1950. One cannot view the slideshow presentation Patricia Turner, MD, FACS, Director, Division of Member Services, created without pausing to reflect on the differences in gender, race, scope of practice, and national origin of the Fellows elected since that time. For example, in this issue we’ll introduce you to International Governor Salman Al-Sabah, MD, MBA, FRCSC, FACS, who is from Kuwait.

In the February 1973 issue of Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics, Fred Ross, MD, FACS, published an opinion piece entitled “Just a General Surgeon,” in which he enumerated and affirmed general surgery’s breadth of practice represented by elective cases and emergent interventions to repair, diagnose, extirpate, reconstruct, sterilize, and resuscitate. Thirty years later, a joint meeting of representatives from the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) and the ACS Committee on Trauma met to consider specialty designation and training for surgeons delivering intensive care unit (ICU) care as well as perioperative and operative care emergently and/or as the result of trauma. The concept and implementation of acute care surgery has been examined from many angles by various stakeholders, with defenses and criticisms considering impact on elective surgery, availability of on-call services, compensation, training, certification, and interaction with other ICU and surgical specialists. The 2016 ACS Governors Survey queried the Governors on these issues. An analysis of the results, summarized in detail by Juan Paramo, MD, FACS, will be published in an upcoming issue of the Bulletin. I invite you to read it and juxtapose its contents with comments made by Mark Malangoni, MD, FACS, and published 10 years ago in the March 2007 issue of Surgery. Alternatively, read the survey results and consider with ACS Past-President L.D. Britt, MD, FACS (in the 2015 AAST Fitz lecture published in the January 2016 issue of the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery), whether Halsted’s call for each hospital to provide emergent surgical care services should provoke a “burn the boats” approach to implementation or a victory lap for acute care surgery proponents. No matter what your model, contrast it with the summary written by West Virginia Governor Bryan Richmond, MD, FACS, of the care President James Garfield received after being shot. Whether you consider yourself an acute care surgeon or not, you’ll be impressed with progress in the field.

Tyler Hughes, MD, FACS, has been kind enough to summarize hot topics surfacing in the ACS Communities, which provide a forum for discussing issues arising in surgical practice. In a more detailed piece aimed at a targeted audience, Kentucky Chapter Governor Charles Scoggins, MD, FACS, has summarized 10 issues to focus on early in a surgical career.

Lastly, I call your attention to a 10-year-old manuscript published in the November 2007 issue of the Journal of Surgical Oncology by Henry Kuerer, MD, FACS, et al. A detailed survey of SSO members on the topic of burnout is reported in that issue, with an accompanying editorial by then ACS and former Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) President Edward Copeland, MD, FACS, and former SSO President Charles Balch, MD, FACS. Dr. Balch and Julie Freischlag, MD, FACS, then his chair at Johns Hopkins, developed the concept over the next four years. They laid the groundwork for what is now known as the Surgeon Well-Being Index, which is also described in this issue of the newsletter.

In closing, we would like to welcome Connie Bura, Associate Director, Division of Member Services, as she lends us her administrative support. We would also like to acknowledge, with gratitude, Betty Sanders’ years of service.


Russell J. Nauta, MD, FACS

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