As you advance in academic surgery, you will inevitably attend meetings of surgical organizations (such as the Fall Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons, or a regional association such as the Central Surgical). Young surgeons sometimes wonder which organizations to join, how to become a member, and how to achieve visibility within these organizations. While your mentor can and should help guide your advancement through the associations, there is no substitute for personal knowledge. Here is a very brief guide. I cite a few representative associations here simply as illustrations – there are a multitude of high quality organizations to explore.
Think of the American College of Surgeons (https://www.facs.org/ ) as your surgical home. After you achieve board certification and establish a practice, you are eligible for fellowship. You may already, hopefully, have been involved through the residents and fellows programs. To this surgical home, you will add other organizations.
Regional Associations such as the Central Surgical Association (http://centralsurg.org/ ), provide an opportunity for surgeons in academics to mix with surgeons in practice in their geographic area. Most require that you are FACS for consideration. You should seek membership in, and become involved with, your regional association. Start by attending the annual meeting and presenting and commenting upon (asking questions) others presentations. Become involved in committees (see previous Blog post) and give 110% to any task.
Specialty Societies such as the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (http://www.aast.org/Default.aspx ) are appropriate for those whose career or practice focus is in that area. Generally there will be one dominant and perhaps two or three smaller societies in your area of focus. Be selective; it is impossible to do justice to multiple organizations and membership dues rapidly add up.
Education-focused Societies such as the Society for Surgical Education (http://www.surgicaleducation.com/ ) provide a forum for faculty involved in medical student or resident education to share problems and solutions. If you have an active role in education, or aspire to such a role, these societies become important.
Special Groups include the Association of Women Surgeons (https://www.womensurgeons.org/Home/index.asp ), the Society of Black Academic Surgeons (http://www.sbas.net/ ), and several others. These provide a forum in which issues of mutual concern can be explored.
Get involved, go to meetings, and join (selectively) the appropriate organizations. You will learn, share, network, and improve your visibility!