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


A meaningful and active committee structure provides the mechanism for chapter member involvement which aids in creating a pipeline for future chapter leaders. Because chapters vary in size and program needs, the following suggestions regarding committees should be considered in view of chapter resources and priorities. The chapter should form the committees that it can reasonably manage to produce activities effectively.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee of the council consists of the officers of the chapter (bylaws may differ but this typically includes the President, President Elect or Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer). During the intervals between meetings of the council, the executive committee exercises the power of the council in managing and directing the business of the chapter. The executive committee cannot elect members of the chapter, amend bylaws, or regulate fees or assessments.

Program Committee

The Program Committee (PC) organizes scientific and other professional programs to address the educational needs of chapter members. It should have from six to nine members, serving staggered two- or three-year terms. The PC should have adequate representation from the surgical specialties to ensure a balanced program schedule. The Treasurer should inform the PC of the amount of funds that have been allocated for program expenses, such honoraria and speaker travel arrangements.

The PC should begin planning the chapter’s program at least one year in advance. A long-range plan will enable chapters to secure the most qualified speakers, including a sponsored officer representative from the College, and will also allow ample time to promote the annual meeting among the membership. The chair of the PC should also consider applying for CME credit via the College’s Chapter CME program which will provide Category 1 CME credit for the annual meeting. Deadlines are adhered to strictly by Chapter Services and the Division of Education at the College, so ample time to submit the CME application and supporting materials needs to be considered when deciding when to start planning for the next annual chapter meeting.

The PC should help promote attendance by word of mouth, news releases to medical publications in the chapter area, posters in hospital staff rooms and lounge areas and email blasts to the members of the chapter. If given sufficient advance notice, the Division of Member Services will ensure that the chapter meeting date, place, and contact person is listed in the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons and in the Chapter Meetings Schedule.

Membership Committee

The central focus of the Membership Committee (MC) is to develop recruitment and retention programs that will encourage active engagement with the chapter. Through experience, College chapters around the world have discovered four criteria that make membership committees more effective in recruiting and retaining members.

  1. The MC should be led by a strong, results-oriented chair
  2. The committee should include representatives of the surgical specialties who are actively involved in the affairs of the chapter
  3. The committee must be adequately funded to conduct recruitment and retention activities
  4. The MC must work closely with other committees and the chapter council. For example, the committee’s efforts in recruitment should be coordinated with the treasurer’s responsibilities in sending dues invoices to new chapter members. The committee should be involved in activities such as educational programming and the chapter newsletter, taking every opportunity to send a message of recruitment and retention to members.

Nominating Committee

The Nominating Committee (NC) of each chapter should have broad representation, including members from surgical specialties, to keep the chapter from being governed by a self-perpetuating group. The NC should have three to five members serving one-year terms and should not include chapter members who hold official committee appointments or who are currently serving as officers of the chapter. A former chapter officer (past president is optimum) should also be included on the committee. The NC should be notified in advance of the pending vacancies among the chapter officers and council members for the upcoming year. It also should be provided with information concerning terms of service, eligibility for reelection, and other pertinent information to enable it to act appropriately in selecting the most qualified and highly motivated chapter members to serve as chapter leaders.

Auditing Committee

If the chapter does not employ an independent accountant to prepare its financial reports, tax returns and conduct an annual audit of all financial transactions an Auditing Committee (AC) should be appointed. The primary functions of the AC are to ensure that proper internal controls are in place, that financial reporting is completed and reviewed in a timely manner and that tax returns are promptly filed each year so that the chapter maintains its not-for-profit status.

The AC should be comprised of at least three members, which can include current chapter officers but should also include other members who hold no other official positions within the chapter. These individuals must have the time and interest to review the financial records of the treasurer within appropriate timeframes.

AC members should serve one-year terms. The Treasurer should provide the financial records to the AC for review on a quarterly basis to review the financial reports and audit controls performed by the Treasurer. If the AC feels there are any irregularities in the data and/or there are any internal control issues, an independent auditor should be hired to minimize the risk of fraud as soon as possible. The chair of the AC should report on the results of the audit of the chapter’s financial records at the chapter’s annual meeting.

Advocacy and Health Policy Committee

The Advocacy and Health Policy Committee (AHPC) should monitor and report on legislative and advocacy issues affecting surgical practice in the chapter’s geographic area. The AHPC should have six to nine members, serving staggered two- or three-year terms. From time to time, chapters may be asked to prepare testimony or written opinions for presentation to legislative health subcommittees representing the concerns of the membership.

The AHPC should also monitor professional liability reform proposals within the chapter area. In addition, the AHPC should conduct informational programs regarding professional liability to educate the public and the surgical profession, including residents and medical students. The committee may wish to coordinate its efforts with other specialty society groups within the state. Importantly, AHPCs should coordinate their activities and policy positions with the College’s Division of Advocacy and Health Policy to ensure that chapter testimony is consistent with College policy.

Note: Chapters should not attempt to subsidize any individual member’s legal defense in a malpractice action.

Other Committees

Chapters may also establish other committees, such as cancer, trauma, young surgeons, liaison (between chapter and state medical society), allied health personnel, communications, patient safety, or surgical program/school liaison. Many of these same committees have been established at the national level by the College, staffed by key College personnel who can advise chapters that want to establish their own similar committees. Chapter Services can provide information concerning the appropriate College staff person with whom the chapter can work to establish a specific committee.