Surgical Products recently sat down with Patricia L. Turner,
MD, FACS, Director of the Division of Member Services at the
American College of Surgeons (ACS). We discussed the organization’s efforts to promote more of its benefits to grow the number
of members, particularly amongst those in the beginning stages of
their surgical careers.
SP: What is the focal point of your latest member recruitment
Turner: The ACS has always had an interest in touching
every segment of the surgeon population. We want to continue our focus on being as broad as possible in attracting
members of all surgical specialties to ensure that the ACS
membership representative of the breadth and depth of our
profession. This includes domestic and international surgeons at every stage of their career.
However, one opportunity is promoting the benefits the ACS
offers for younger surgeons. We tend to group all Fellows together,
regardless of their level of experience, when the reality is that the
needs of members just starting their practice would be quite different from those closer to retirement, for example.
SP: What are some of the biggest challenges the ACS has in
expanding membership and participation?
Turner: I think all professional organizations are similar in that
their members are always struggling to find enough time to juggle
all their personal and professional demands. Specifically, surgeons
are seeing an increasing amount of administrative and regulatory
tasks being added to their workload. These responsibilities eat into
the time they have to contribute to a professional organization, not
to mention their time with families, personal interests, and so on.
The one problem we don’t have is a lack of value. If individuals
knew everything we provided, the ACS would sell itself. It’s just
difficult to know all the benefits of ACS membership. That’s one of
the reasons we released the 100 Reasons video earlier this year. It
fit nicely into commemorating the organization’s 100th anniversary
and showcased a small collection of our offerings.
SP: If you were going to point to some of the primary benefits of
being an ACS member, what would they be?
Turner: The surgeon’s specific registry would be one, as it’s
surgeon-specific. However, that’s difficult to answer because our
offerings are not one-size-fits-all. In 2015, swathe of what constitutes surgery is so broad that our programs need to be tailored
to fit all specialties and every section of the career path, as well as
So we have a unique Advisory Councils for rural surgeons,
new professional development modules for those who are starting
new practices, specialized educational modules and a collection of
meetings set up to help generate a sense of comradery and fellow-
ship with those individuals facing the same issues.
SP: What are some of the shared struggles of ACS members, and
how is the ACS looking to help?
Turner: Electronic health records (EHRs) look great on paper,
but the reality is that when the software vendors create programs
that don’t talk to one another, surgeons practicing at multiple sites
are faced with severe communication inefficiencies. Sometimes
even different versions of the same platform won’t talk to each
other. Coupled with the expense EHRs represent, some surgeons
are creating work-arounds because of the inefficiency. The ACS is
working with vendors to make EHRs more surgeon-friendly.
The ACS is also working to develop appropriate metrics for
measuring quality in the surgical community. These outcome
measures need to compare apples to apples so that we’re not
comparing a general practitioner with a surgeon. We advocate for
our members with insurance companies and legislators. We’re
committed to greater standards that help save money and reduce
complications, but the standards need to make sense. They need
to be the right measures and they have to be based on elements
that surgeons can impact. Legislators can champion the quality
approach, but let us help set the criteria.
SP: What would be your advice on how members can take full
advantage of an ACS membership?
Turner: Take advantage of our multi-pronged approach—there
are offerings developed specifically for you, whoever you are.
Realize the potential of your profession by learning about the
full impact the ACS can have on your career. Everyone has more
potential, and the ACS can help its members realize it. We’ve
developed multiple videos where younger surgeons describe their
personal connection and the value they’ve received from being
members of the College.
We also have residents and those who are not Fellows yet highlight how a rank and file surgeon can reach a leadership position.
We also do something called Dinner with 12 Strangers, where we
combine a leader of the College and younger champion to bring
together those surgeons who aren’t members yet to showcase how
they can develop more personal/professional connections. We feel
that the more they know about all the benefits of membership, the
more likely they are to see the value. So much is going on that it’s
difficult to know it all. We just want to make it easier for them to see
how useful the ACS can be.
For additional information about becoming a member of The
American College of Surgeons and member benefits, please visit
their website at www.facs.org/member-services/join or call 800-