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News from the American College of Surgeons

Clinical Congress 2019
October 27–31, 2019


Dan Hamilton
Sally Garneski

Chattanooga surgeon R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS, honored with 2019 Distinguished Service Award of the American College of Surgeons

SAN FRANCISCO (October 27, 2019; 11:00 pm PDT): R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS, a general surgeon and surgical educator from Chattanooga, Tenn., received the 2019 Distinguished Service Award (DSA) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) last night during the Convocation ceremony that preceded the opening of the College's 2019 Clinical Congress, one of the largest international meetings of surgeons in the world. The DSA is the highest honor bestowed by the ACS.

The ACS Board of Regents honored Dr. Burns for "his innovative vision as an integral engineer of the College's focused initiatives influencing general surgery training, ultimately creating better prepared general surgery residents entering practice with enhanced skills and confidence to further improve the quality of care for their patients." Dr. Burns is also recognized as "a role model to surgeons everywhere to always do the right thing for patients."

Dr. Burns has served in several ACS leadership roles. In addition to having served as ACS First Vice-President of the ACS (2012–2013), Dr. Burns is a Past-Member of the Board of Governors (2004–2010) and Past-Chair of the Governors Committee on Surgical Practice in Hospitals and Outpatient Settings (2007–2010). He has served on the ACS Advisory Council for General Surgery as a representative of the Southeastern Surgical Congress since 1993, the Steering Committee on Transitions to Practice since 2012, the Coaching the Next Generation Committee since 2014 and the committee's Simulation Subcommittee since 2015, and the Task Force on the Future of General Surgery Training since 2016.

The DSA award citation recognizes Dr. Burns' "industrious work as one of the original members of the Transition to Practice Committee that resulted in the Mastery of General Surgery Program by providing an additional year of experience for young surgeons entering general surgery." It further notes "his exemplary leadership as Chair of the Committee on Coaching the Next Generation, along with the committee's vision of continuous innovative projects to connect senior surgeons with continued opportunities to serve our all of our colleagues in all surgical and medical settings."

Dr. Burns has served on the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Committee for Image-Guided Breast Evaluation (1996–2000) and the ACS Stereotactic Breast Steering Committee (1997–2005). He is a Past-President of the Tennessee Chapter of the ACS (1998–1999) and continues to serve on the chapter's Credentials and Program Committees.

Dr. Burns has held other prominent leadership roles in surgery. He has been secretary/treasurer of the Chattanooga Surgical Foundation since 1976. He is past-president of the Harwell Wilson Surgical Society (1980); has served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) appeals panel (1982); has chaired the Johnson & Johnson Surgical Research Advisory Committee (1983–1988); and has been an examiner for the American Board of Surgery oral examinations. He is a Past-President of the Southeastern Surgical Congress (2006–2007) and the Southern Surgical Association (2006–2007). Dr. Burns has held various other leadership positions in the Southeastern Surgical Congress, including chair, program planning committee (1986–1992); member, executive council (1990–present), and secretary-director (1995–2004).

He has also served on the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education residency review committee (RRC) for surgery (1999–2005), was the RRC's special envoy, Katrina Disaster (2005–2006), and Surgeon Site Visitor for the RRC and ACS Pilot Project.

Dr. Burns is a prolific contributor to the surgical literature and a respected speaker on advances in trauma and general surgery.

About R. Phillip Burns, MD, FACS
Dr. Burns is professor and chairman, department of surgery, University of Tennessee (UT) College of Medicine, Chattanooga, and is a member of the board of trustees and practices at Erlanger Medical Center in Chattanooga. He is a founding partner and Chairman of the Board of University Surgical Associates (USA), Chattanooga, and specializes in breast and laparoscopic surgery. Under his leadership, USA has grown to one of the largest independent surgical practices in the country. He is a member of the UT College of Medicine's system-wide advisory committee on hospital and university affairs and the UT health affairs subcommittee of the UT board of trustees. At UT College of Medicine, Chattanooga, he chairs the surgical education advisory committee, serves on the graduate medical education committee, and is founder and medical director of the medical/surgical skills laboratory. He serves on multiple committees at both UT and Erlanger Medical Center. Dr. Burns received his medical degree from UT Memphis in 1966 and completed his surgical training at UT City of Memphis Hospitals in 1974, after serving as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force from 1968 to 1970.

"FACS" designates that a surgeon is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

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About the American College of Surgeons
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and improve the quality of care for all surgical patients. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world. For more information, visit