by David B. Hoyt, MD, FACS
Communication is the key to maintaining a posi- tive relationship of any type, including the one between the Fellows of the American College
of Surgeons (ACS) and the organization’s leadership. Hence, the ACS continually strives to develop
new, state-of-the-art communications vehicles that
meet the needs of today’s time-pressed surgeon.
Like most organizations, the ACS faces several
challenges in its efforts to share information with the
membership. Three questions that are at the forefront
of our efforts to develop improved communications
vehicles are as follows:
•How do we cut through the “noise” when members
are inundated with e-mail, publications, and social media from a range of sources, all competing for their attention?
•How do we effectively deliver our message to a multi-generational audience?
•How do we keep our communications about an ever-growing range of products and services concise yet
This month’s column highlights some of the innovations, initiatives, and projects that the ACS Division
of Integrated Communications, under the leadership of
Lynn Kahn, has undertaken in recent years to address
ACS Communities and social media
Launched in August 2014 under the stewardship of
Tyler G. Hughes, MD, FACS, the ACS Communities have proven to be a valued member benefit.
The ACS Communities provide a forum in which
Fellows can discuss the issues that affect them professionally and personally and bend the ear of the
Many Fellows turn to the communities for advice
on solving clinical problems. Others relish the oppor-
tunities that the communities provide to interact with
surgeons who share their nonsurgical interests. For
example, one of our newest communities is composed
of surgeon writers.
Perhaps most importantly, the communities provide
a two-way exchange of information between ACS members and the College Officers, Regents, Governors, and
Executive Staff. Many of these individuals participate
in multiple communities and are eager to learn how to
better serve your interests. Moreover, Dr. Hughes regularly monitors these online discussions and provides the
leadership with feedback on the hot topics of the day.
At present, the College has 98 online communities,
of which 66 are open to all members and 32 are closed.
Closed communities largely serve as work forums for
ACS leadership bodies, such as the Board of Governors
and the Advisory Councils. As of January, more than
3,475 contributors had posted more than 28,675 messages in the communities, and these data do not fully
reflect the number of members who read the posts.
Furthermore, the College is active on all major
social media outlets. The College’s social media reach
has grown rapidly in recent years, particularly on Twitter (see Table 1, page 8). We are continually exploring
ways to use these vehicles more effectively to provide
avenues of communication between the fellowship,
the leadership, and the public. I would encourage you
to start t weeting or posting about the issues that affect
Longstanding ACS communications vehicles
Three longstanding modes of communication bet ween
the ACS leadership and the fellowship include the
newsletters distributed by the ACS divisions and committees, the ACS website, and the Bulletin.
The newsletters distributed by the College’s divisions and committees have played a vital role in relaying information regarding ACS activities to the membership. All of these newsletters have been published
electronically for many years now. Approximately
one year ago, the ACS embarked on a performance
improvement initiative to identify and standardize the
College’s e-newsletter portfolio. We determined that
the College was distributing nearly 30 newsletters to
various audiences—some to all Fellows, but many to