The American College of Surgeons is an educational association of surgeons created in 1913. Headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, the College provides membership for doctors worldwide specializing in surgery who pass a set of rigorous qualifications.
American College of Surgeons members are referred to as “Fellows.” Members abbreviate their membership status in the American College of Surgeons by using the letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons). Those letters after a surgeon’s name mean that the surgeon’s education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College.
“Associate Fellow” is another category of American College of Surgeons membership. Associate Fellowship provides an opportunity for surgeons who are beginning surgical practice and who meet specific requirements to assume an active role in the College at an early stage in their careers. In order to provide education and other benefits for allied professionals who deal with surgical patients, but who are not surgeons, the “Affiliate Member” category was created.
Currently, there are approximately 78,000 members, including more than 58,000 Fellows in the U.S. and Canada and more than 4,000 Fellows in other countries, which makes the American College of Surgeons the largest organization of surgeons in the world. There are presently more than 3,900 Associate Fellows.
22 members make up a Board of Regents, who govern the College. The Board of Regents is selected by an elected Board of Governors representing different specialties and geographical locations (the number of governors is based on the amount of Fellows in a region). While the Board of Regents is an administrative body, the Board of Regents serve as the representative body of the ACS between Fellows and the Board of Regents.
Within the ACS are numerous committees and advisory councils, studying and serving as a liaison for different specialties and aspects of the surgical profession.Examples include the Committee on Trauma, the Patient Education Committee, and the Advisory Council on General Surgery.There are currently 103 chapters into which ACS Fellows are organized: 64 chapters in the United States, 2 in Canada, and 37 in other countries around the world.
Through its Inspiring Quality initiative, the American College of Surgeons drives awareness of its quality improvement programs such as the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program (ACS NSQIP®) and ACS NSQIP Pediatric. The initiative is intended to enable the College to have a dialogue and work together with health care leaders around the nation, to continue to have a tremendous impact on improving surgical care, and to lead our health care system in the right direction.
By administering myriad continuing medical education offerings, reflecting technology advancements and distance-learning options; accrediting simulation institutes that offer surgeons and surgical residents opportunities to learn new procedures and emerging technology; and providing surgeons with opportunities to record and obtain information they need for American surgical specialty board Maintenance of Certification requirements, the College "promotes high quality educational programs designed to educate surgeons and directly improve the health and safety of surgical patients."
By means of standard setting and rigorous review processes through its Commission on Cancer, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, Committee on Trauma, and Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program, the American College of Surgeons accredits and verifies facilities to help ensure that surgical patients get high-quality care.
In an effort to provide surgeons with the best scientific evidence available through evidence-based data, ACS works to improve the quality of surgical care through the ACS National Surgical Quality Improvement Program, National Cancer Data Base, National Trauma Data Bank, and Trauma Quality Improvement Program.
ACS monitors and analyzes socioeconomic, legislative, and regulatory issues affecting the practice of surgery through its Division of Advocacy and Health Policy based in Washington, DC, and the ACS Professional Association. The College participates in health policy development on these issues, prepares responses to Congress and federal agencies, and serves as a liaison between the ACS and Congress and federal agencies, as well as the offices of other surgical and medical associations regarding health policy matters of importance to surgeons and surgical patients.