As I write this, Match Day is tomorrow. Students, residents, faculty, program coordinators, and program directors should take great pride in how we handled the challenges of exploring the specialty and choosing future residents in a COVID environment. It was clearly a group effort involving a lot of ingenuity and grace. The end of this year's match process leads in to a number of new projects.
First, the Winter Meeting was a huge success (congratulations Kshipra Hemal, BS and Alan T. Makhoul, BA for winning the Best Paper and Best Poster Award respectively)! The topic was Competency Based Plastic Surgery Training, and over 170 people attended virtually. There was a clear consensus that there is no clear consensus on how plastic surgery will move forward with competency based training. On one hand, the Canadian initiative and the four programs pursuing time-variable competency-based training are having success. On the other hand, learning how to translate that success and apply the lessons learned more generally is a task that is just beginning. To that end, we are currently in the process of forming a new committee on Competency Based Plastic Surgery Training that will be under the Vice Chair of Education. Its purpose will be to develop a national consensus on what a competent plastic surgery resident ready to graduate looks like, how to choose among the options to construct a competency-based curriculum and train the faculty, and develop and refine the assessment tools needed for such training, recognizing that every program will have its unique strengths and challenges delivering competency based training. Please join us at the ACAPS Panel at the AAPS in May as we begin to answer some of these questions.
Second, we are undertaking a thorough review of our experiences and lessons learned through this most recent exploratory, application, and interview season. The students were very pleased with our offerings and communications this year, and we achieved the goal of establishing ACAPS and its website as the official, reliable, authoritative source for applications and interviewing information. As a result, we are continuing our task forces focusing on 1) medical student recruitment and communications - this group did a great job and want to learn how to provide even better information next year, 2) away rotations - AAMC guidance is fluid as are the varying state and institutional COVID restrictions and our goal to try to provide accurate information about away rotation possibilities, 3) the application - this is perhaps the biggest potential change in that we are evaluating whether or not to continue to use the current ERAS system, 4) interviewing - how can we combine the best parts of in-person and virtual interviews, and 5) interview invitation and post-interview communications between applicants and programs - our uniform invitation date and acceptance process is a success that can be made even better, and our post-interview communication restriction warrants a review in the current climate. We seek your input in any form and encourage you to contact us if you would like to be part of the task forces. Our goal is to have concrete recommendations for you to evaluate and vote upon at the ACAPS Business meeting in May.
Third, Bruce Mast and Earnie Manders from the ASPS and ACAPS respectively are initiating a joint Task Force on providing Plastic Surgery to underserved areas. There are a large number of locations, both urban and rural, that do not have enough plastic surgeons. These locations can be very enjoyable and fulfilling practices, but go unfilled due to lack of awareness. The lack of plastic surgeons at underserved areas can also be a source of specialty creep when our non-plastic surgery colleagues attempt to fill unmet reconstructive needs. Please contact Dr. Manders if you are interested in this Task Force.
Fourth, the ACS has started an Academy of Master Surgeon Educators. This is a great opportunity to grow as an educator and share lessons learned with our colleagues in the other surgical disciplines. If you are interested in more information, check out the link https://www.facs.org/education/academy/instructions
Fifth, the measure to establish a Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion passed, so we will be electing the first person to fill that position at our May ACAPS Business Meeting. Please join us to vote. In addition, keep you eyes open for further information about the ACAPS seminar that will take place prior to the business meeting.
Thanks are in order to all of you for all the time and effort you put forth to encourage, educate, mentor, and train our current and future plastic surgery colleagues. COVID forced us to adapt, but adapt and thrive is what Plastic Surgeons do best.
Robert A. Weber, MD
President of ACAPS 2020-2021