The American College of Surgeons Leadership and Advocacy Summit

05 May 2016

An Inside Look from a Resident Attendee

By Erin M Garvey

Over 500 surgeons attended the ACS Leadership and Advocacy Summit from April 9th to April 12th in Washington DC, and nearly 70 of those attendees were residents and fellows. This was my first time attending the Summit, and I was truly blown away by the quality of the educational content, the value of political advocacy and the plethora of networking opportunities.

The leadership portion of the course was full of excellent content ranging from conflict management and cultural dexterity to improving emotional intelligence. Dr. Adil H. Haider, MPH, MD, FACS from the Center for Surgery and Public Health recommended everyone visit the website for Project Implicit  and take an Implicit Association Test. Some of my favorite quotes from the day include:

  • “We judge ourselves by our best intentions but judge others by their actions” –Kurt O’Brien, MHROD University of Washington School of Medicine
  • “It is no longer enough to just take good care of your own patients, but we, as a profession, need to take good care of all patients” – Susan Moffatt-Bruce, BSc, MD, PhD, MBOE, FACS, FRCS (C), Ohio State University


The Advocacy portion of the Summit was the big draw for me. While I am a huge Olivia Pope and Scandal fan, I had not previously taken a very active role in political advocacy and felt it was time to get informed and involved. April 11th was dedicated to arming Summit attendees with the details of pertinent medical legislation and preparing them for effective communication with legislators. According to a congressional survey, in person visits with constituents are the most influential way to interact with members of congress. Key strategies include: clearly defining the problem at hand while also sharing a pertinent patient story, having one or two key points, and reiterating that you are advocating with the patient’s best interest in mind.  Over the course of the final day, 217 meetings between surgeon attendees and congressional offices occurred!    

While in DC, I was working on a podcast for the Resident and Associate Society Communications Committee, and I reached out to all of the resident and fellow attendees for their feedback on the Summit. In addition to meeting many new peers, I was also able to interact with the College leadership including Dr. David Hoyt, Executive Director of the American College of Surgeons and Dr. Patricia Turner, Director of the Division of Member Services, both of whom were delighted to have so many trainee attendees present. Networking was a breeze during meeting breaks, as well as at the social events, which included  a beautiful evening dinner on the top floor of The Hay Adams Hotel, during which there was a keynote address by Chris Matthews, detailing his predictions for the 2016 election..

When I asked Dr. Hoyt what advice he would give to residents and fellows who were not able to attend, he said, “Come next year!” I myself hope to be back next year as well.

GarveyFellowshipPhotoErin Garvey is a PGY-5 general surgery resident at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. She is also the Chair of the Communications Committee for the American College of Surgeons Resident and Associate Society.

Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.

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