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

Membership Recruitment

Developing a Recruitment Strategy

It is important for chapters to develop and implement a clearly defined and quantifiable recruitment and retention strategy. When a strategic plan for recruitment and retention is clearly defined with goals, chapter officers and councilors are more likely to be engaged to make sure that the plan is put into action. Chapters should consider the following when developing a recruitment and retention strategy:

Review the Chapter’s Membership Categories and Dues
  • Refer to the ACS Membership Class and Status document for further details on how ACS categorizes members. The document also includes the dues and billing cycle for each ACS membership category
  • After reviewing the ACS Membership Class and Status document, ask whether the membership categories in your chapter need to be revised
  • Decide which membership categories will have dues and which ones will be dues exempt. Set dues for each relevant category. Chapter Services recommends the following categories:
    • Fellow – USA/Canada/International
    • Fellow – Senior (71 years and older)
    • Fellow – Retired (as defined by ACS)
    • Initiate – (this category only exists from June to October)
    • Associate Fellow
    • Resident Member
    • Medical Student
    • Affiliate Member (non-surgeon)
“How Many Members Are in Our Chapter?”
  • A chapter should define how members of the chapter are counted and should regularly compare those numbers to the total number of ACS members that are living in the chapter area. To do this, chapters should use the member list that can be downloaded from the Find a Chapter web page. Appropriate permission and login information is required from Chapter Services. Please contact the Member Services Program Coordinator, Natalie Bell, at for more information.
  • From the list of ACS members in a chapter area, chapters should use column Q, which states whether the member is a Fellow, Associate Fellow, Resident, etc., and column R, which identifies the members status (Senior, Retired, etc.)
  • Chapters should monitor membership in each category and compare those numbers to the ACS membership in a given chapter territory.
  • Develop a plan on how to increase membership in given categories rather than a “one size fits all” strategy. Reference the example below to help with this exercise.

Membership Categories for Chapter X

Chapter Dues

Members of Chapter

ACS Members in Chapter Area

% of ACS Members That Are Members of Chapter X

Fellow (practicing)





Senior Fellow
(71 and older)





Retired Fellow










Associate Fellow










Medical Student





Affiliate (non-surgeon)









Develop Quantifiable Goals (see examples)
  • Increase dues paying members in the Fellow (practicing) category by 5%–7% over three years
  • Have 50% of new Initiates in the chapter area join the chapter within six months of convocation
  • Implement a donations strategy and increase donations to the chapter by Fellows who are dues exempt (ex. Retired, Senior) by 3%–5%. Donations may be used to support awards/scholarships for residents to attend Clinical Congress, Leadership & Advocacy Summit, etc.
  • Increase resident participation by 15% by offering free or significantly discounted dues and meeting registration fees.
Track Membership Data
  • How have membership numbers compared year over year? Are they trending up or down?
  • How many new members are recruited each year? Is this number increasing or decreasing?
  • What past activities were effective for recruiting new members?
  • Define the specific activities that you will undertake to attract new members in all membership categories.

Recruitment Strategies and Templates

Chapter Services has developed several template letters to help chapters with recruitment initiatives. Chapter should send personal emails/letters from a member of the chapter’s leadership. It is recommended that chapters tailor membership benefits as specifically as possible in the letter to each prospect’s interest. Enclose/attach an application for chapter membership and/or provide instructions on how to join online. Provide a schedule of upcoming chapter meetings/events and advocacy updates. Below are recruitment template letters, specialty society flyers, and ACS membership brochures that can be used for recruitment purposes:

Recruiting Fellows

In recruitment letters or advertising, be sure to stress the value that your chapter provides its members and how membership efforts from the chapter will improve the quality of surgical care at the local level. If your chapter has recent advocacy successes, mention them. Create a Top 5 reasons why someone should join your chapter list. Two template letters are provided below as a guide. Chapter Services encourages the chapters to edit the documents however deemed fit.

Recruiting Fellows Template Letter 1

Recruiting Fellows Template Letter 2

Recruiting Initiates

Once an applicant has completed all criteria to become a Fellow, they are known as an Initiate until officially becoming a Fellow during the Convocation Ceremony at Clinical Congress. Chapters are strongly advised to do the following while members are Initiates

  • Send a personalized letter/email of congratulations to all new Initiates that reside within your chapter area (see Recruiting Initiates Template Letter 1 and Recruiting Initiates Template Letter 2). Invite them to join the chapter and attend an upcoming chapter event
  • Consider offering a waiver or reduction of chapter membership dues or event registration fees to new Initiates
  • Publish the names of new Initiates in your area within a chapter email/newsletter to all members with a note of congratulations
  • Sponsor a reception at Clinical Congress, the annual meeting, or another event, to celebrate the new Initiates in your chapter area
  • Encourage Initiates to engage with the chapter
Recruiting Associate Fellows

Surgeons who have completed an accredited surgical residency program and have entered surgical practice or are engaged in additional surgical residency, research, or fellowship programs can become an Associate Fellow. In addition, surgeons who have applied to become a Fellow will be considered an Associate Fellow while their application is reviewed. A member may remain an Associate Fellow for up to six-years. Chapters should engage Associate Fellows in its chapter territory as these members will be future Fellows.

Recruiting Residents

Many programs enroll their surgical trainees in the ACS through the group billing and enrollment system. As these members are future Fellows of the College, chapters are strongly encouraged to offer programming for residents, so they become engaged with their local chapter and the ACS early on. Chapters should consider the following when recruiting resident members:

  • Send a personalized email from a leader of the chapter or the RAS Representative to each resident in your chapter area and invite them to join your chapter and participate in an upcoming activity such as Surgical Jeopardy or paper competitions (see Recruiting Residents Template Letter).
  • Assign each resident a “mentor” from your chapter membership. Mentors should make personal contact with the resident on a regular basis to offer personal assistance, advice or other support.
Recruiting Medical Students

Medical Student membership in the College is available to students enrolled in accredited allopathic and osteopathic medical schools in the United States, Canada, and international countries. Chapters should consider the following when recruiting medical student members:

  • Send a personal email from a leader of the chapter or the RAS Representative to each medical student in your chapter area and invite them to join your chapter and participate in an upcoming activity (see Recruiting Medical Students Template Letter).
  • Assign each medical student a “mentor” from your chapter membership. Mentors should make personal contact with the medical student on a regular basis to offer personal assistance, advice, or other support on their decision to become a surgeon.
Recruiting Non-ACS Members

Membership in the ACS is open throughout the year and chapter leaders and members are encouraged to promote the value of membership in the ACS and local chapters. Template letters for Fellows, Associate Fellows, Residents, and Medical Students are available for use by chapters. Brochures for each category can also be downloaded and sent to prospective members.

Specialty Society Flyers

Membership in the ACS is open to surgeons in all surgical specialties. These flyers are meant to accompany the membership brochures and highlight the value of membership for all surgical specialties.