Members of the Society of Surgical Oncology (SSO) are encouraged to self-nominate for membership on a prestigious surgery board – but there’s a catch embedded in the qualifications.
Do No Harm obtained a copy of a message sent to SSO members in mid-April, informing them of the opportunity to nominate themselves for the American Board of Surgery’s (ABS) Complex General Surgical Oncology Board (CGSOB). One of the board’s primary actions is to write an examination for aspiring oncologists to certify their proficiency in the field. The CGSOB “is seeking one nominee to serve a six-year term,” according to the email.
“This call is separate from the annual call for Council nominees from the ABS,” the email continued. The SSO lists several areas of surgical expertise this special appeal was seeking, as well as the need to demonstrate “commitment, availability, loyalty, and ability to keep confidence.” These are undoubtedly essential qualifications to have as a medical board member. However, the SSO has one more batch of characteristics to list:
Emphasis will be placed on elements of diversity across all dimensions, including race, color, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or other elements that bring a different voice to the organization.
What is the Society of Surgical Oncology up to? The SSO, headquartered in Illinois, recently rolled out its 2023-2027 Strategic Plan, titled “Directing the Future of Cancer Care.” Unfortunately, this plan has less to do with the surgical care of cancer patients and more to do with divisive DEI policies. Every pillar of the plan lists the DEI-related initiatives first, and underscores the organization’s latest efforts to fast-track a self-identified nominee to the board who will uphold woke goals and objectives.
The pillars include:
Increase the SSO’s Impact Worldwide: The goal is to “champion DEI throughout the field of cancer surgery” by ensuring DEI infiltrates initiatives throughout the organization.
Enhance Member Experience: To ensure the SSO’s leadership is more diverse, it aims to participate in “meaningful engagement for underrepresented groups.”
Advance Equitable Patient-Centered Care: SSO wants to push the concept of health equity by creating educational content and increasing DEI in the recruitment process for cancer research.
Drive the Future of Cancer Care: The goal is to promote diversity in the workforce through pipeline programs and development of personnel who belong to “underrepresented groups.”
The Society of Surgical Oncology is one on a long list of medical professional organizations that continue to barrel toward elevating the perceived virtues of DEI in healthcare without considering the downstream effects. Cancer patients deserve to be treated by physicians who are among the most skilled and qualified, and choosing board members based on DEI-related issues undermines the legitimacy of the board exam itself. The SSO must ensure it is recruiting board members who have expertise in surgical oncology, not identity politics.
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