To the membership of ACAPS - colleagues:
It has been encouraging to hear the reports of Plastic Surgery programs across the country responding so vigorously to the challenges of COVID; residents and staff serving on the front lines as needed, outside of our comfort zone, putting patient care first, and at the same time doing everything possible to maintain resident and staff safety and wellbeing. Well done!
Congratulations are also in order for your quick, flexible, adaptive responses to the prohibition of both visiting student rotations and in-person residency interviews. You have moved to the virtual world rapidly and creatively. The students have been very grateful for the cooperation you have maintained that has made ACAPS the reliable, authoritative source for information and guidance for students interested in a career in plastic surgery. The way all programs have worked together to make ACAPS a trusted safe zone for questions and answers is an unqualified success.
As we move forward through these unique times, ACAPS will continue to harness the ideas and energy of its membership. One of the ways we are working is by establishing specific, goal directed, time limited Task Forces. The idea behind a Task Force is that we can establish it immediately allowing us to respond quickly, minimizing bureaucracy while at the same time putting the entire weight and resources of ACAPS behind the effort. If you have an idea, let us know, but be forewarned, you'll likely be given a Task Force to shepherd.
As an example, it has been the Medical Student Task Force that revamped the ACAPS website for students, updated the application and interview clearinghouse, and coordinated the various web-based student/program interactions. The response from students has been overwhelmingly positive. We are building on this to improve our ability to mentor medical students, allow them to become members, and help those students who don't have plastic surgery programs at their schools. We are also forming a new Task Force to explore the idea of improving the plastic surgery application process next year.
Another example of a successful Task Force has been our Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion. This group has done an amazing job identifying concrete ways to improve the recruitment, retention, and promotion of underrepresented minorities within plastic surgery. There will be specific suggestions for you to review at the Fall business meeting.
Speaking of the Business Meetings, we are going to re-organize the meeting so that we spend less time presenting and more time discussing. All reports to the membership and questions for membership input will be available online the week before the meeting for your review. This gives attendees time to peruse, ponder, and prepare. The business meeting will then be the forum where we harness the strength and expertise of our members and gather your input on the subjects important to you.
The Fall ASPS and Winter ACAPS meetings are virtual, so we will use Zoom to gather. We have all been forced to become better at these web-based meetings, so we look forward to lively discussions at the ACAPS Panel on Competency Based Education in Plastic Surgery at ASPS, the ACAPS Business meeting, and the Winter Meeting. We will be posting more information and instructions as the meeting get closer.
One final thought - we have all worked hard to overcome the restrictions and novelty of this year's academic experience. As we continue, be careful about creating expectations on students regarding attendance at zoominars. We don't want to give the impression that an applicant's ranking would be based on how many times they sign-in to a program's offerings. We will be posting further guidance regarding interviews etc. in the near future. As you have undoubtedly noticed, applicants are particularly attuned to the uncertainties of this year's application process, the potential for insufficiently distributed interview invitations, and the forced choosing of a six year destination without being able to meet the people or see the places. Let's do our best to communicate clearly and frequently what we are doing and why.
Robert A. Weber, MD
President of ACAPS 2020-2021