American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

ACS Certificate in Applied Surgical Education Leadership



The ACS Division of Education continues to play a pivotal national leadership role in surgical education, which is exemplified by our Certificate in Applied Surgical Education Leadership (CASEL) initiative. An assessment of past ACS Surgeons as Educators Course participants confirmed the need for this additional formal training to further develop the specific skills necessary to be a leader in surgical education. A review of existing, related programs illustrates that CASEL will be a unique educational experience, with an emphasis on applied surgical education and leadership.

Hilary Sanfey, MB, BCh, MHPE, FACS, FRCSI, FRCSEd(Hon), MAMSE, co-leads this effort with Ajit K. Sachdeva, MD, FACS, FRCSC, FSACME, MAMSE. CASEL offers content and skill building opportunities using a mentored, hybrid-delivery model with an emphasis on applied learning. Participants will implement a relevant surgical education leadership project at their home institutions.

Mission and Goals

The mission of CASEL is to promote excellence in surgical education leaders, improve the quality of surgical training and, ultimately, patient care. The goals of CASEL are to:

  • Prepare participants for leadership roles in surgical education at a level that allows for the highest educational standards
  • Positively impact quality and patient safety through lifelong surgical education and training
  • Improve surgical education at an institutional and departmental level by promoting innovation and change

Program Overview

Intended Audience

CASEL is intended for surgeon educators who have at least two years in practice and are interested in improving their skills as education leaders. The program is designed for surgeon educators at any point in their careers. The successful candidate will have experience in a leadership role (or soon assuming a leadership role). Participants will have undergone or participated in structured training in the basics of surgical education, such as the ACS Surgeons as Educators Course or equivalent. CASEL is open to anyone, but preference will be given to ACS Fellows. Space is limited to 25 participants.

Admissions Criteria

  • Limited to surgeon educators from the U.S. and Canada
  • At least two (2) years of experience as a practicing surgeon
  • Completion of ACS Surgeons as Educators course or equivalent (Surgical Education Research Fellowship program, advanced medical education certificate or degree program)
  • Experience in or about to assume a formal leadership role in education
  • Completed application
  • CV
  • One-page biosketch
  • Letter of support from chair or equivalent may be required
  • Realistic project for home institution with evidence of support and necessary resources for implementation

Course Content and Format

CASEL will offer core content and skill building activities and include a relevant education project implemented at each of the participant’s home institution. In-context (or problem-based) applied learning will be emphasized. A diverse array of topics covering the competencies necessary to lead effectively in education will be discussed.

Topics themes may include:

  • Recognizing colleagues in distress
  • Program outcome evaluation
  • Navigating change
  • Negotiation for educational resources
  • Fostering a more ethnically diverse academic surgical workforce
  • Leading up, down, and across
  • Faculty development and advancement
  • Managing adversity at work and in your life
  • Educational scholarship

2019 Surgical Education Leadership Projects

View the 2019 CASEL participant project abstracts.


Call for applications opens

April 12, 2021

Applications due

May 28, 2021

Participants are selected and notified

July 2021

Participants are contacted to discuss individual project, reading list, and leadership assessment activity

Summer 2021

CASEL Kick-Off (virtual event)

September 30–October 2, 2021 (4–6 hours of educational content each day)

CASEL Online Programming (virtual events)

6–8 selected evenings—Dates are TBD

Individual projects are developed and implemented under guidance of mentors

October 2021 to October 2022

Check-in video calls for participants with faculty

December 2021
March 2022
June 2022
September 2022

Individual project presentations and awarding of certificates, with new participant cohort in attendance

At the next CASEL Kick-Off (October 2022 – Dates are TBD)

Time Commitment

  • CASEL Virtual Kick-Off: Approximately 20 hours of educational content
  • CASEL Post-Kick-Off Sessions: 6–8 90-minute evening sessions
  • Mentor meetings: Expected 1 hour per month
  • Quarterly Check Ins: December 2020, March 2021, June 2021, and September 2021—each 60-90 minutes
  • Individualized Project Work: Ongoing throughout CASEL program
  • Final Presentation and Graduation: 5–7 hours as part of 2022 CASEL Kick-Off


The tuition for CASEL will be $3,550 for Fellows of the American College of Surgeons and $3,850 for non-Fellows.


Following the virtual launch September 30–October 2, participants will work remotely with mentors and faculty monthly throughout the ensuing year on their individual institution projects, culminating in a formal presentation in 2022. Additionally, communities of CASEL graduates will be established to promote collaboration.

Upon completion of CASEL, participants will be expected to:

  • Demonstrate critical skills and knowledge of current trends and practices for serving as an effective surgical education leader
  • Implement a project—with the guidance of a mentor(s)—of personal and professional interest and supported by their institution or organization
  • Submit project findings for presentation and/or prepare a manuscript for publication
  • Provide self-assessment and program evaluation for purposes of individual and program enhancements

Upon successful participation in CASEL, participants will receive a certificate and CME credit from the ACS.

How to Apply

The 2021 application cycle is now closed. Accepted participants will be notified in July 2021. The 2022 program application will open in Spring 2022.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Accreditation

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of CanadaThrough an agreement between the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, MOC Program participants may record completed self-assessment programs or simulation activities developed and accredited by the American College of Surgeons in Section 3 of the Royal College's MOC Program.

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