Get to Know Your ARC/STSA Board Member: Kellie McFarlin, MD, FACS

Kellie McFarlin, MD, FACS (left), and Richard Royal, MD, FACS (right) serve on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors as representatives of the ACS.

Kellie McFarlin, MD, FACS, joined the ARC/STSA Board of Directors in 2018 as one of two representatives of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). Richard Royal, MD, FACS, also serves as a representative of the ACS on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors, joining in 2017.

The ACS has sponsored the ARC/STSA since its inception in 1972, and provides guidance through two board appointments, nominated by the organization’s Committee on Interprofessional Education and Practice.

We caught up with Dr. McFarlin to hear more about her thoughts on interprofessional education, as well as her experience with the ARC/STSA.

As a representative of ACS, why do you believe it’s important to serve on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors? In your experience, what do you believe is the value of accreditation?

The ACS is forward-thinking when it comes to the surgical patient. They’re always thinking of safety and looking at what can be improved. Being able to sit on this board ensures that the values we have for our surgical patients also exist within this organization. It’s good to be able to interact together and collaborate.

As it relates to accreditation, I believe it ensures competence, efficiency and safety in the operating room for the patient. This is something we need to focus on at every level of care, regardless of the role you play in the OR.

In this role on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors, I understand the process for accreditation, what metrics are used and what the standards are. It gives me a greater perspective of where my surgical technologists and assistants are coming from when they’re involved in the OR team. Knowing they have secured these credentials reassures me that our patients are really getting the best care.

In this role on the ARC/STSA Board of Directors, I understand the process for accreditation … It gives me a greater perspective of where my surgical technologists and assistants are coming from when they’re involved in the OR team.

At first I was a bit overwhelmed with everything involved in the accreditation process. Spending time to learn from the ARC/STSA helped me to really get a grasp of it. When went I back to my home institution, I asked for their materials to continue learning. I needed to understand how students go through these steps, so when I worked with students, I understood their process and where they were coming from.

You feel useful as a surgeon because you’re helping patients, but this felt like a different kind of usefulness, as an educator. I was trained to teach medical students and residents, but if you had asked me if I was able to teach the surgical technology students — I probably would have said yes, but I really wasn’t. This role has helped me better guide my students and given me a new appreciation for everything students must do to finish their program. 

You recently attended the ACS annual conference — were there any moments that stood out as it relates to your work with the ARC/STSA?

I attended a panel session on assisting with patient difficulties — not necessarily the clinical difficulties, but rather how a team should work together to address the patient’s needs. There are so many people that the patient interacts with from the moment they enter the operating room (OR). By collaborating as a unit, a team can help alleviate a difficult situation with a patient.

I’ve seen patients who are reasonably nervous coming into the OR. The friendliness of a surgical technologist or surgical assistant can really help diffuse a tough situation. The whole interplay of a team focusing on the patient that way — even though it’s not a clinical scenario — was a very important topic of discussion. 

The friendliness of a surgical technologist or surgical assistant can really help diffuse a tough situation.

As a member of the ACS Committee for Interprofessional Education, this principle of teamwork, of collaborating to address the patient’s needs really struck me. If we don’t approach things as a group, we’re missing the future of medicine — that everyone in the room has a role in the patient’s care.


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