ABS Executive Director Lewis Announces Retirement

Dr. Frank R. Lewis has announced his retirement as executive director of the ABS after serving in the role for 15 years.
Dr. Frank R. Lewis

At the winter meeting of the American Board of Surgery (ABS), Executive Director Dr. Frank R. Lewis announced his retirement at the end of this year. Dr. Lewis joined the ABS as executive director in 2002.

An unwavering advocate for surgical residents and residency education, Dr. Lewis oversaw as executive director the creation of the Surgical Council on Resident Education (SCORE®), the development of a primary certificate in vascular surgery, the establishment of “flexible rotations” in residency training, the design and implementation of the FIRST (Flexibility in Duty Hour Requirements for Surgical Trainees) Trial, and many other initiatives that have shaped U.S. surgical training and certification. Additionally, Dr. Lewis initiated the expansion of ABS advisory councils and component boards to cover all areas of general surgery, as well as the inclusion of at-large directors to further broaden the board’s representation.

The ABS plans to conduct a national recruitment process to identify his successor, with the goal of having the selected individual in place by the next ABS meeting in late June 2017. Dr. Lewis will work with his replacement up to his retirement at the end of 2017 to ensure a smooth transition of duties. Further information about the recruitment process will be forthcoming.

“There are not enough words in the English language to describe the service and contributions made by Dr. Lewis to American surgery over his 15 years as executive director of the ABS,” said Chair Dr. John G. Hunter. “We are deeply indebted to him for his visionary guidance and dedication to the mission of the board.”

In announcing his retirement, Dr. Lewis made the following statement:

It was exactly 15 years ago this month that the directors of the board selected me to be the executive director to succeed Dr. Wallace Ritchie. I am bookending that decision by announcing this morning that I have decided it is now time for me to step down.

The ABS is organizationally stable and the office staff extraordinarily competent. The directors and members of the advisory councils and component boards who volunteer for service continue to be outstanding leaders in American surgery, and are intensely committed to the board. In such an environment it’s easy to be an executive director, because you get carried along on the shoulders of the highly competent people surrounding you. However, after extensive reflection, I believe it is time to step down.

When I became executive director, I had been an active clinical surgeon for more than 30 years, most of that time at San Francisco General Hospital, where I was extremely busy with a very broad surgical practice centered on trauma, and extensive experience overseeing a med-surg intensive care unit. As such I brought broad and deep experience with all types of surgery as well as resident teaching to this job, which allowed me to make well-informed decisions about surgical practice and teaching. In addition, immediately preceding my appointment I had been a director of the ABS for seven years, chair of the Qualifying Exam Committee for three years, and chair of the full board in my last year. I had examined nearly 1000 candidates for certification during my tenure. I was thoroughly familiar with board operations and core board activities.

At the present time all of that experience is remote, and surgical practice as well as surgical resident training has changed significantly in the interim. It is time for a surgeon who has relevant and extensive present-day experience and greater familiarity with the issues currently facing our diplomates to take over the executive director position.

In particular, the ABS is facing three main challenges: the need for residency redesign to foster the uniform competence of all general surgery residency graduates; revision to our Maintenance of Certification program to make it more meaningful and reflective of diplomates’ practices; and development of some method to recognize training and experience gained outside of ACGME-accredited training programs.

Addressing these challenges will be a complex, multi-year effort. It’s time for someone with a higher ATP level to be recruited who is prepared for this extended effort, and who has the relevant expertise and people skills to move it forward.

Serving as executive director of the ABS has been the most extraordinary experience of my career, and I thank all of you for the opportunity.

Bio – Frank R. Lewis Jr., M.D.

A Maryland native, Dr. Lewis received his medical degree from the University of Maryland and completed his general surgery residency at the University of California – San Francisco. He then completed an NIH trauma fellowship at San Francisco General Hospital. Prior to the ABS, Dr. Lewis was chair of the department of surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and professor of surgery at Case Western Reserve University. Before going to Detroit, he was professor and vice chair of the department of surgery at UC San Francisco and chief of surgery at San Francisco General Hospital.

Dr. Lewis is a past chair of the ABS and the Residency Review Committee for Surgery of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). He is also a past president of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma and the Shock Society. He has also served as first vice-president of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), as well as chair of the ACS Board of Governors.

About the ABS

The American Board of Surgery is an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1937 for the purpose of certifying individuals who have met a defined standard of education, training and knowledge in the field of surgery. Surgeons certified by the ABS have completed at least five years of surgical training following medical school and successfully completed a written and oral examination process administered by the ABS. They must then maintain their board certification through ongoing learning and practice improvement activities.

The ABS offers board certification in general surgery, vascular surgery, pediatric surgery, surgical critical care, complex general surgical oncology, surgery of the hand, and hospice and palliative medicine. It is one of the 24 member boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties.

January 9, 2017 Media Contact: Alyson Maloney

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