Dr. Sheridan Reflects on College Accomplishments and Her Term as President

While speaking to the audience at the Ceremonial Conclave on Monday, October 5, during the 2015 Annual Clinical Assembly, outgoing ACOS President, Valerie Sheridan, D.O., FACOS, FACS reflected on her term and College accomplishments.

“Progress is a development through time. Annually, we review the development of our organization and honor our founding surgeons. I am proud to report that even though time continues to rush by and the practice of medicine continues to change dramatically, our organization continues to thrive.

It has been an exciting year of progress! Incredible events have taken place to provide opportunities for advancement in our careers. All of the hard work put into these watershed events has paid off.

Less than ten years ago, we began to focus on concerns about graduate medical education. We wanted to make certain we were providing academic excellence and a breadth of cases for training in our existing and new programs. Through clinical rotations into residency and fellowship training, we needed to develop new leaders and aggressively pursue the expansion of programs and opportunities for future surgeons. Incredible efforts have been made by some of our recent past presidents and the Board of Governors to make this happen. We strategized through many meetings for success. Dr. Belkoff stated it well, “We will continue to march ahead and won’t turn back,” and we haven’t! We have collaborated and conquered and we will keep going!

We have embraced the ACGME single accreditation system. The ACGME, AOA and AACOM have initiated the alignment of graduate medical education’s structure and standards to improve public health. This will prepare future physicians with the highest quality of education and training to meet the ever-changing needs of our patients. Recognizing the contributions of the osteopathic profession to healthcare in the U.S., our unique principles and practices will be maintained.

This is a demonstration of our ability to work together as a profession to meet the public trust. The public expects to be cared for by the best physicians regardless if they are DOs or MDs. There will be challenges that need to be overcome, yet, moving forward it is a positive, successful outcome that remains the goal. All involved, from our parent organizations to the specialty groups, are committed to making this happen. Dr. Nasca, the CEO of the ACGME, has assured the osteopathic community that the ACGME is committed to doing this fairly and equitably. Giving every program the greatest opportunity at being successful is the ultimate goal.

The vast majority of the Review Committees (RCs) (20/23) are accepting the AOA Board Certification for Program Director appointments. Knowing there are many standards to be met in each program, we will continue to strive for all of the RCs to adopt equal recognition of the AOA Board certification for the PD position. Newly approved standards recognize AOA certification as equivalent to ABMS certification. The ACGME has instructed the RCs to develop language consistent with the expectation that future DOs will take the AOA certifying board exams and that osteopathic certification is a valid benchmark! This yet is another challenge we have accomplished. It is to be noted that the time is now that we are not only equally trained but equally recognized and respect by all.

We all desire the equal opportunity for access to training for our osteopathic graduates. We are continually addressing any barriers that exist or may arise during the process. The AOA and specialty colleges are working together on a comprehensive strategy to solve any issues. The key to success for the residents is that programs need to focus on ACGME accreditation now. It will help to decrease the future uncertainty for as many of the residents as possible.

We have been the catalyst for osteopathic surgical education and growth. We are proud of our involvement with SOSA including participation in these conferences and mentoring programs.

Membership has requested more practice management programs that reflect their socioeconomic needs and improve their ability to practice efficient, cost-effective medicine. The recognition of this distinctive value depends heavily on advocacy efforts. This is another area that we have been addressing over these past years. This challenge is sought to secure recognition of osteopathic medicine’s distinctive value and adequate reimbursement for it.

As these socioeconomic, legislative, and regulatory issues affecting surgery remain of paramount importance to the ACOS, Carter Alleman, JD was brought on staff as the Manager of Health Policy.

This year, we have witnessed the repeal and replacement of the controversial and flawed SGR formula for calculating physician payment under the Medicare Program! This long fought journey resulted from efforts of ALL physicians collaborating with mutual respect for a common goal. Now is the time to be stronger and more unified as an osteopathic family while embracing the opportunities that lie ahead for students, residents and members alike. The need is great and the moment is ours to work with all healthcare providers to formulate solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our country.

In an effort to recognize the contributions of our membership, through the generosity of the Trust Fund, ACOS developed a video series that displays the osteopathic surgical profession and our uniqueness across different practice settings, populations, and specialties. ACOS was honored by the AOA with the Strategic Team Award and Recognition award for the series.

Our vision to connect with other like organizations and our allopathic counterparts has progressed well over the years. We are regarded as respected colleagues within the ‘House of Surgery.’ We will continue to break down the silos within our profession opening further communication and collaboration. Through this network with the ACS and other surgical groups we can ensure continued success in all realms of medicine.

These achievements provide many opportunities to our members. We have gained the ability for full membership into the ACS with college fellowship opportunities, full membership into the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and associate membership into the American Urological Association.

Our goal is to measurably improve care and deliver better outcomes—we are eager to work with thought leaders to address quality improvement and value in healthcare. Evidence based data is essential but how fast we act on that data is really the key to progress. We must remain motivated. Quality is a shared interest and by working together, we can deliver inspiring healthcare solutions.

It has been a humbling experience to represent the American College of Osteopathic Surgeons. I am proud, honored and extremely grateful to be a part of this organization. Professionally, the ACOS—its members and leadership— have played a major role in my life, assuring all osteopathic surgeons are respected and successful, and that we may all contribute to the healthy, vibrant surgical patient populations of this nation. Thank you to for allowing me to represent you this year as president.”