Every year I am amazed by the breadth of knowledge and information presented at the annual Clinical Congress. I find it deeply satisfying to realize how much I can still enjoy and learn from the wide variety of topics presented from all the surgical specialties.
First, there is so much new to absorb in each of our specialties and the Clinical Congress is a must in terms of hearing firsthand about innovation and change. The technical aspects of surgical techniques seemingly unrelated to my own area of specialization often have parallels to my own practice and raise questions or possible answers to problems I face in my own field.
Second, the vast amount of information about topics germane to all surgeons, such as surgical ethics, professionalism, critical care, surgical fundamentals, information technology, new surgical technology, advocacy and more, really can’t be found in any other venue.
The College has worked hard to offer learning environments that meet a variety of needs. The Town Hall meetings give groups of surgeons with a common interest the opportunity to freely discuss a wide variety of topics in a relatively unstructured environment. There will be 20 Town Hall meetings this year ranging from “Development of a Rural Track in Residency” to “The Surgeon Specific Registry (SSR): Maintenance of Certification (MOC), Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS) and other Mandates,” to 18 additional sessions on such topics as incorporating surgical ethics into your practice, MOC, surgical education, and others.
Named Lectures are generally given by carefully chosen experts in a field and include the Martin Memorial Lecture during the opening ceremony, which this year will be given by Dr. John Meara: “Addressing Unmet Surgical Need: The Role of Academic Surgery.” Among the 10 other Named Lectures will be the Charles G. Drake History of Surgery Lecture, the Scudder Oration on Trauma, and the John J. Conley Ethics and Philosophy Lecture, to name but a few. These lectures often turn out to be highly memorable, groundbreaking explorations of critical issues in our profession and all attendees should try to hear one or more.
For those looking for an in-depth experience in a focused surgical topic, the Post Graduate Courses offer both didactic/experiential courses and surgical skills courses. Offerings this year include a General Surgery Review Course in the didactic format along with 14 others, and 15 surgical skills courses including courses on palliative surgical care, thyroid and parathyroid ultrasonography, advanced hepatopancreaticobiliary ultrasonography, laparoscopic inguinal and ventral hernia repair, total mesorectal excision, and many others.
There will be 48 Meet the Expert Luncheons, which offer a small group of participants the opportunity to sit down in a nonformal environment and engage in a case-based discussion of a wide variety of surgical issues. These luncheons can be a wonderful networking opportunity and a setting in which like-minded colleagues can interact face to face. A Meet the Expert conversation can be the beginning of a friendship or a professional relationship built around mutual interests.
Of course, there will also be the more traditional panel discussion sessions, the scientific forum for the presentation of scientific papers, and the video-based education sessions.
The point of all this is that the Clinical Congress offers a huge variety of ways in which to learn and interact with your fellow surgeons. Different learners prefer different formats, and the College offers something for everyone. In addition, the Clinical Congress offers unparalleled CME and other credit to address regulatory mandates with content specific to ethics, patient safety, pain management, palliative care, and trauma and critical care. Self-assessment credit can be earned to meet requirements of MOC part II.
Finally, part of the purpose of the Clinical Congress is to encourage social and networking interaction among our surgical sisters and brothers and to encourage the advancement of our profession as a group of individuals bound together by a bond of special knowledge and skill and a dedication to our fellow surgeons and our patients. Together in congress we advance the interests of our profession and our patients. See you in Chicago.
Dr. Weissler is the Joseph P. Riddle Distinguished Professor, department of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, and chief, division of head and neck surgery, University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, and the chair of the ACS Board of Regents.