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South Dakota Surgeon Reflects on National Leadership Role

Jan 05, 2015 06:57PM ● By MED Magazine

 By Peter Carrels

Dr. Gary Timmerman’s climb through the leadership ranks of the prestigious American College of Surgeons has been a highly gratifying experience for the Sioux Falls-based surgeon.  It has also benefited students at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.

Timmerman, chair of the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine surgery department, recently concluded a one-year stint as Chairman of the College of Surgeons’ Board of Governors. 

That appointment – to lead the Board of Governors – followed a twenty-year commitment to the organization that involved an array of demanding and meaningful assignments and positions. The Watertown, South Dakota native had been president of the College of Surgeons’ South Dakota chapter, and had served on numerous regional and national committees.

Founded in 1913, the American College of Surgeons’ 85,000 members are from every state in the US, as well as many foreign countries. The ACS is the second largest organization of physicians in the world, just behind the AMA.

The organization is guided by two leadership boards, the Board of Regents and the Board of Governors.  Regents formulate policy and direct affairs for the College.  The Governors serve as an administrative channel through which various chapters (some 270 of them) and the organization’s many members deliver their concerns and suggestions to the organization. It is the grassroots component of the organization, the activist aspect.  “The Board of Governors,” explained Timmerman, “is the voice of the College of Surgeons.”

“Gary has been a terrific leader,” said Dr. Patricia Turner, a Chicago-based surgeon who also directs member services for the American College of Surgeons. “He brought stability and strategic thinking to this important position.” Dr. Turner pointed out that Dr. Timmerman was the first South Dakota surgeon to lead the organization’s Board of Governors.

A benefit of Dr. Timmerman’s national post is his exposure to and relationships with surgeons and medical school professors and deans from around the country.  That translates into better opportunities for University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine graduates seeking surgical residencies.  It also translates into greater visibility for the surgical residencies offered by the school of medicine here in South Dakota.

The surgical residency program at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine is in its infancy, and reviewed its second cycle of candidates in fall, 2014.  The program has been approved for three residents per year. Dr. Timmerman played a key role in re-establishing the medical school’s surgical residency program, a program that had been discontinued in the 1980s.

At his office on the Sanford Hospital campus in Sioux Falls, Dr. Timmerman shared his feelings about ACS experience.  “What a humbling experience it’s been. I’ve been able to work with some extraordinary people, and I’ve learned that so many of my colleagues, my fellow surgeons, are dedicated to medicine, surgery, and to the patient.”

Peter Carrels is Communications Coordinator, University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine.