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

Spring 2014

Message from the Editor

Leadership & Advocacy Summit

YFA Essay Submissions

Leadership Advice

YFA Mentorship Program

ACS Scholarship Committee Seeks Ad Hoc Reviewers

Message from the Editor

Spring is here and advocacy is in the air! On behalf of the Young Fellows Association (YFA), I invite you to attend the 2014 Leadership & Advocacy Summit. This two-part meeting offers a unique opportunity. The Leadership Summit allows Fellows to meet with leaders of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to foster an environment focused on building mentoring skills, developing leadership expertise, and strengthening local ACS chapters. The Advocacy Summit follows, allowing surgeons to visit their congressional representatives and raise surgeons’ issues on Capitol Hill. It is only through grassroots advocacy efforts such as this that we can help protect our profession, but more importantly, our patients. On April 1, the same day we are scheduled to meet with our representatives and senators, Medicare physician payments are due to be slashed by nearly 25 percent. You can help! Contact your representatives and senators by calling the ACS Hotline at 877-996-4464.

Find out more about the Leadership & Advocacy Summit and register today! I look forward to seeing all of you in Washington, DC.

Joshua A. Broghammer, MD, FACS
YFA e-News Editor
Kansas City, KS

Leadership & Advocacy Summit: A Young Fellow's Perspective

As a Councilor for the ACS Kentucky Chapter, I had the honor of attending the 2013 ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit. My job was to participate in the meeting and report back to the chapter.

The meeting gave me an opportunity to experience firsthand what the ACS has to offer and how to make surgeons’ voices heard at the local and national level.

The Summit is a three-day, dual meeting. The first half is the Leadership Summit, designed to enhance interactions among ACS leaders. A focus on the state and regional chapters gave us ideas for how to improve local chapter involvement. Interest and activity vary greatly by chapter and sharing best practices among chapters encourages new ideas.

Fellows attending the Summit from Kentucky representing their respective Advisory Councils, made me realize that as surgeons we have more in common than our specialties and that our common interests can be addressed at the state and national level. The Summit provided a basis for our advocacy efforts and afforded us opportunities to discuss issues germane to our chapter, which we then presented during our Capitol Hill visits.

During the Advocacy Summit, I learned more about national health care issues and how to go about communicating my concerns to my senators and representatives in Congress. ACS leaders and the ACS Division of Advocacy and Health Policy staff briefed us on the issues and legislation pending in Congress.

After the briefing and instructions, we assembled as units from each of our states and visited Capitol Hill—a highlight of the trip. It is one thing to learn about the issues and how things work, but it is a whole different experience to converse with representatives, senators, and their staffs about important legislation.

The College gives us the resources to be at the forefront of health care reform, and it is our responsibility to make use of those tools through this conference. The Summit is different from any other conference I have attended, and I plan to make it a regular event.

Cynthia Downard, MD, FACS
YFA Governing Council
Louisville, KY

YFA Essay Submissions: The Promise of a Profession

The YFA is accepting essays, 400–500 words in length, covering the theme, "The promise of a profession: The transformation of surgery and surgeons into the next decade," through May 1. Essays may reflect personal experiences or philosophical thoughts on the topic. The YFA Governing Council will review and judge all of the submitted essays. The winning entry will be published in an upcoming edition of the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons. Outstanding submissions will appear in future quarterly YFA e-newsletters.

Submit essays to The YFA represents all ACS Fellows ages 45 and younger and seeks essays from surgeons in this age group as well as those who are young at heart. For more information, contact the Chair of the YFA Communications Workgroup, Ellen Farrokhi, MD, MPH, FACS, at

Ellen Farrokhi, MD, MPH, FACS
YFA Governing Council
Seattle, WA

Leadership Advice: What I Wish I Had Known as a Young Surgeon

This is a difficult subject for me to expound upon because, aside from some fine-tuning of life’s priorities, I am quite pleased with my surgical past. I had excellent role models and mentors during my surgical training and early years on the surgical faculty. They prepared me well for what has been an overall satisfying career.

I was born in 1944 with one foot in the great generation and the other tied to the rapidly expanding pool of baby boomers. All of my mentors and teachers were products of the great generation and most of them held fast to the predominant values of that era. First and foremost among these was a high premium on hard work, long hours, and an unwavering dedication to the profession of surgery and to their patients.

Some of my teachers remarked (I suspect tongue in cheek) that being on call every other night deprived us of the surgical experience that could be gained by being on call every night. When my wife gave birth to my daughter during my HO2 year, my superiors thought they were being generous in giving me the afternoon off to experience with her this important event in the life of our family. However, I was back at my station that evening as the term "paternity leave" was not yet part of our lexicon. As a resident and fellow and during my early years as a faculty member, I missed soccer matches, baseball games, dance recitals, and even some birthdays because etched into my conscience was the concept that duty to my patients trumped duty to my family. Saturday mornings were totally occupied with grand rounds followed by patient rounds. When in town, all of us saw our patients seven days a week.

I do not mean to paint too bleak a picture. I experienced many wonderful and memorable vacations and other events with my family, and when my son (born during medical school) and daughter were old enough, I took each of them separately on a trip with me annually. They still have warm memories of—what to them at the time were—great adventures. However, my wife, who did not work outside of the home until our children were both in school, did most of the parenting. Such was the norm of the age.

Times have changed. You Xers and Yers have insisted on greater balance in your lives and because many of your spouses have careers of their own, more of the child-rearing falls on your shoulders. In my department and most others, pressure from you moved grand rounds from Saturday to a more family-compatible time of the week. I don't think you love your children any more than I do, but you certainly have made more time for them during their formative years. You generally value your attendance at their activities above regional surgery meetings and even career-promoting national meetings. You even trust your surgical partners to look after your patients for you on weekends, freeing you for family time.

Rather than demeaning this shift in priorities, I admire your generations for bringing them forth. However, I am proud of the continuity of care I brought to my patients as a resident and as a staff surgeon. Because of the way the 80-hour work week is presently structured, this practice is impossible for residents today. I will not be surprised if similar regulations apply to all surgeons in the future. It is a challenge to all of us to make continuity of care a key overriding principle as workplace regulations continue to be developed and modified. If we allow a “shift mentality" to dominate surgical training and practice beyond, we will have lost an important component of our profession’s soul.

As a young surgeon, my priorities were not entirely wrong; they just needed a bit of tweaking. I believe that family concerns have always been important to me, but I do regret that the combination of the demands of the era—an intense focus on career development—and possibly a lack of conviction on my part resulted in less time with my spouse and children than I should have spent. Knowing now what I missed, I wish I would have traveled less, ordered my work day better around family events, and entrusted more routine care of my patients to my colleagues while remaining available for important decisions.

Layton F. Rikkers, MD, FACS
First Vice-President, American College of Surgeons
Professor Emeritus of General Surgery, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Madison, WI

YFA Mentorship Program

The YFA has announced the upcoming 2014–2015 ACS Young Fellow Mentorship Program. This program creates a one-year mentor/mentee match focused on increasing a Young Fellow’s involvement in ACS activities. This will be the third year of the program, which was extremely well received by both the mentors and mentees in the first two years. Involvement of Young Fellows in ACS activities is critical to its future and this program is designed to improve Young Fellows' experience in the ACS by increasing their engagement and participation. Each mentor/mentee pair is asked to generate a goal for the year, with examples including participation in the YFA, ACS committees, or state chapters. There will be 15 mentor/mentee pairs, with the program expected to run October 2014 to October 2015. We are looking for Young Fellows interested in establishing a mentee/mentor relationship, as well as senior leaders in the ACS to serve as mentors. Please look for the upcoming application, which will be available in May.

Rebecca C. Britt, MD, FACS
YFA Governing Council
Norfolk, VA

ACS Scholarship Committee Seeks Ad Hoc Reviewers

Looking for an opportunity to get involved with the ACS? The ACS Scholarship Committee is compiling a database of reviewers for the ACS’ specialty scholarships and fellowships. If you would like to become a prospective ad hoc reviewer, please contact the ACS Scholarships Administrator, Kate Early, at with your name and a list of one to three specialty areas for which you would be a suitable reviewer.