The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice. Members of the American College of Surgeons are referred to as "Fellows."
The letters FACS (Fellow, American College of Surgeons) after a surgeon's name mean that the surgeon's education and training, professional qualifications, surgical competence, and ethical conduct have passed a rigorous evaluation, and have been found to be consistent with the high standards established and demanded by the College.
All Fellows are required to have the following qualifications:
- Graduation from a medical school acceptable to the American College of Surgeons.
- Certification by an American Surgical Specialty Board which is a member of the American Board of Medical Specialties and which is appropriate to the applicant's specialty practice, or an appropriate specialty certification by the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
- A full and unrestricted license to practice medicine in their respective state or province.
- One year of surgical practice after completion of all formal training. Additional practice time may be required if the practice situation and/or geographic location changes. Exceptions may be granted by the Fellowship Liaison Committee.
- A current appointment on the surgical staff of the applicant's primary hospital with no reportable action pending which could adversely affect staff privileges at that or any other health care facility.
- A current practice that establishes the applicant as a specialist in surgery. The degree to which a practice must be restricted to the specialty is to be determined by a responsible College Credentials Committee. The limitation of an applicant's practice to the scope of the designated specialty is an important consideration.
- Interest in pursuing professional excellence both as an individual surgeon and a member of the surgical community. Such interest may be evidenced by membership in local, regional, and national surgical specialty societies; participation in teaching programs and on hospital committees; continuing medical education through attendance at professional meetings, courses, and seminars.
- Ethical fitness as well as professional proficiency as determined by an appropriate College Credentials Committee. This determination is based upon information obtained from Fellows who were consulted as references and from other sources.
There is also another category of membership known as "Associate Fellow." This category was established to provide an opportunity for surgeons who are beginning surgical practice and who meet specific requirements to assume an active role in the College at an early stage in their careers.
The College currently has about 79,000 Fellows, including more than 4,000 Fellows in other countries, making it the largest organization of surgeons in the world.