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

Building a Dynamic Program

Presentations: Plenary Sessions and Panel Discussion

For plenary and panel sessions held during the meeting, consider topics of broad interest, including:

  • Advocacy or regulatory issues at state/national level
  • Malpractice/litigation
  • Payer/insurer Issues
  • Quality initiatives/healthcare trends
  • MOC
  • Clinical topics including new techniques
  • Resident education
  • State mandated training requirements
  • Training/work force, transition to practice, transition to retirement

A common pitfall is to run over schedule.  This can have a negative impact on break times and time spent at the posters or with the vendors.  Save a bit of extra time at the end of the session for questions, noting that if the session runs over, the Q and A period will be truncated.  Make it clear to the presenters and moderators that timeliness will be strongly encouraged.  Provide a timing device at the podium to assist in time management.

CME/MOC for Chapter Meetings

Through educational program planning activities, chapters organize their own scientific programs to keep members current at the local level with advances in surgical information and techniques, as well as new technologies.

When applying for CME credit through the College, chapters must fulfill the requirements as outlined on the CME Procedures for Chapters. The CME Checklist provided with the procedures should be used as a guide to completing the requirements for each step of the College’s chapter CME process. Any questions regarding CME requirements should be directed to Suvina Sallan, Continual Professional Development Accreditation Administrator, at or 312-202-5517.

Read more information about CME.

Resident Paper/Poster Competitions

The goal of having resident paper, or poster competitions, at chapter annual meetings is to showcase the basic science and clinical work of residents. Some chapters have separate competitions for medical students, which offers a great way for this group to be involved in the meeting. Some chapters hold paper competitions ahead of their meeting, and those selected as the top presentations are offered a place on the program to present. Other chapters have the presentations and scoring held during the annual meeting with winners announced and awards given later in the meeting. Do not forget to take photographs of the winners, preferably with the chapter leadership or meeting committee chairs. Photographs may be shared with Chapter Services at the College and then may be published in the ACS monthly magazine, the Bulletin.

Oral Presentation Considerations:

  • Time allotted for oral presentations: the number of oral presentations up on the podium that need to be allotted for in the program (e.g. 6  to 8 minutes each, with a 2 minute discussion, facilitated by the moderator or audience members at the end).
  • Choose oral session moderator(s).
  • Determine the need to invite discussant(s).
  • Determine if presentations should be distributed among academic institutions locally (or from around the state) for broad representation .
  • Determine whether presentations should be basic science oriented vs. clinical work
  • Eligible work; prior presentation vs. published work?
  • Must resident enrolled in competition be a member of the Chapter? Or if not, must the State be their home Chapter?
  • Determine if fellows or specialty residents are included in the session.
  • Determine early-on the possible number of posters for a poster competition, working with the assigned meeting planner from the hotel, or other event space, to see how many posters may be accommodated in the space allotted for the chapter meeting.

Poster Presentation Considerations:

  • Displayed poster versus electronic poster
  • The size of poster allowed for submission (length and width)
  • Time period during the meeting when posters may be set-up for viewing and taken down at the end
  • Moderated sessions for posters vs. informal viewing?
  • Consider having a top 5-10 “Posters of Distinction” to narrow the judging needed.
  • Allow adequate “breaks” in the program for viewing of the posters by members and others attending the meeting.

Logistics for paper and poster presentations:

  • If needed, choose an on-line abstract submission site (8 months to one year prior to meeting), e.g. OASIS or Precis Abstract Management. Determine who will be working with the online submissions—chapter committee chairs or staff, etc.
  • Determine the Call for Abstract deadline (3-4 months prior to meeting).
  • Post the call for abstracts online (6 months or further out, if possible).
  • Market abstract submissions (6 months or further out) and offer monthly reminders and a Final Call. Email, chapter website and/or Facebook pages may be used for this purpose
  • Program Committee—review submitted abstracts, with scoring; set-up a conference call/meeting to review scores, choose participants for the competition. Categorize abstracts into:
    • Basic science vs. clinical
    • Podium presentation vs. assignment to poster presentation
  • Determine the number of winners for the competitions, and also any awards that might be given (monetary award, plaque, ribbon, etc.) Determine the judges ahead of time, and reach out to them for confirmation of their participation. Create a standard email that can be archived and used from year to year.
  • Provide a scoring sheet/system for judges; if needs be, have a call with them ahead of time to review
  • Send author acceptance emails for papers and posters, notifying them several months prior to the meeting.
  • Order certificates and certificate folders—print out in advance of meeting, and while onsite at the meeting make sure that those responsible for making the awards have them handy. Create a word document template that may be used from year to year.
  • Determine the type of medium for hanging posters—on board set-up at the event, or directly to the wall. Make arrangements with the event venue as to how the posters should be hung, and whether you need to provide any push pins or poster tape.
  • Post meeting, include event photos on the chapter website and/or the chapter newsletter.

Surgical Jeopardy

A resident Surgical Jeopardy competition may be held during the annual meeting, or at another time set aside for the event.  The set-up of the competition is very similar to that of a popular television game show and is a good way to include residents in chapter activities and to allow them to showcase their surgical knowledge. Surgical Jeopardy brings much excitement to a chapter meeting. This type of competition also allows those participating in the audience to be given the chance to answer competition questions should the contestants not be able to answer.

The logistics for setting up such an event are much the same as for those for poster or paper competition. Time must be built into the meeting for the contest, a judge or several judges should be in place should one of the answers given by a “Jeopardy team” be left up to interpretation, and a meeting space needs to be set aside for the event. There should also be marketing ahead of time to residency programs around chapter geographic area, looking for team contestants. Define the composition of team members. Generally a plaque or some type of award is given to the grand prize winner of the event. After the meeting, post photos to the chapter website and newsletter.

In 2016, RAS ACS developed Surgical Jeopardy 2.0, which includes:

  • two new games in an easy-to-use, interactive PDF digital file;
  • a printable digital copy of the questions and answers;
  • a digital copy of the handbook, which includes instructions on how to use the flash drive and suggestions to set up your competition.

ACS Chapters can request a copy of the new games by emailing Luke Moreau at or calling 312-202-5737.

Local or chapter Surgical Jeopardy winning teams are invited to participate in the Surgical Jeopardy Competition held at the annual Clinical Congress. Information about participation in the Congress Jeopardy competition will be sent by Chapter Services to the chapters several months before Clinical Congress.

Surgical Skills Competition (or Surgical Olympics)

By holding a Surgical Skills Competition™ within a chapter meeting, residents from local training programs are allowed to test their clinical skills with an audience made up of chapter meeting attendees. This type of competition is another good way to engage residents in your chapter meeting, and will increase the meeting attendance with younger participants. Often times the families and friends of the resident participants are encouraged to attend the competition which adds to the excitement.

A plaque or trophy for the surgical skills competition allows the winning institution to highlight this fact during recruitment interviews and can also be used in marketing for the department/institution. The equipment used for a skills competition may come from partnering with a medical equipment vendor, who may already be a part of the chapter meeting. However, if heavy equipment is not available to the chapter, than very basic surgical skills in the competition can be centered on basic surgical tools and other everyday items

Logistics for Surgical Skills Competitions:

  • Invite residency teams:
    • Team composition (Resident Year 1, 2-3, 4-5) or intern/mid-level/senior
    • Consider adding a small entry fee (minimal to cover administrative costs and for purchasing t-shirts, etc.).
  • Venue:
    • Usually held during the annual meeting, but sometimes at the very end or during the evening, following a dinner, buffet, or “happy hour” for the members. The skills competition is the evening’s entertainment for all.
  • Determine surgical skills tasks for the competition:
    • Basic open skills (e.g. knot tying under tension)
    • Advanced open skills (e.g. bowel anastomosis)
    • Laparoscopic skills (e.g. laparoscopic ventral hernia repair)
  • Supplies needed:
    • Laparoscopic trainers/open trainers/FLS supplies
    • Suture/graspers/instruments
    • Have as many supplies as possible come from industry participators/vendors, with the rest coming from participating simulation centers.
    • Vendors may be able to supply for this chapter event: instruments, sutures, MIS equipment, trainers, surgical Robot.
  • Station rotation—Three laparoscopic and 3 open tasks:
    • Every team member performs a single repetition of each surgical task and all scores are added for each team.
    • The top 3 teams advance to a “play-off” for a different task the first round.
    • Logistics should be organized so that the judges are able to input scoring with minimal down time between “rounds” during the competition. This will keep the momentum of the competition going!
  • Judging:
    • Faculty judges-scoring is based on time and errors.
    • Consider a hat/special t-shirt/special badge to identify the judges to all.
    • Recruit helpers to time the surgical skills tasks.
  • Prizes:
    • A plaque, trophy or certificate is awarded to the winning team.
    • Posting of photos on the chapter website and in chapter newsletter