FACS in Medical Terms

Many doctors and other medical professionals have a string of abbreviations after their names to indicate their credentials, areas of specialization and certifications from medical school. Most of us recognize “M.D.” and “D.D.S.” as “medical doctor” or “doctor of dental surgery.” However, some of the others have little meaning to those outside the medical profession. One such acronym is FACS.

Whether the medical student is studying in a surgical specialty, like plastic surgery (for a plastic surgeon) or oncology, or is studying to work in a system like radiology, osteopathy, ethical fitness, pediatrics, cell sorting, internal medicine, or other patient care needs with a medical degree, FACS can be seen in many areas. Many residents in residency programs have different titles and labels depending on their stage of medical education and training in health care. The American Board of Medical Specialties is another organization recognized by those in medical school, as well as those using board certified labels from their board certifications.

What Does It Mean?

The letters FACS stand for an acronym of Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, an indication that the bearer of such a title is a member of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). The ACS is a professional organization that was established in the early 20th century “to improve the quality of care for the surgical patient by setting high standards for surgical education and practice.”


Roughly 20% of all U.S. medical doctors are members of the American Medical Association, but you won’t find AMA or any variant thereof after their names. So what makes membership in the ACS such a prestigious matter that it warrants this distinction? When you see FACS after a surgeon’s name, it signifies that the surgeon has passed muster with the organization and meets its stringent standards in the areas of education and training, competence as a surgeon, professional credentials and ethical conduct.


The ACS was founded in 1913 by Chicago surgeon Franklin Martin to promote the highest possible standards of surgical care through the education, training and support of its members. The organization actually grew out of the Clinical Congresses of Surgeons of North America, which began holding annual meetings three years before the founding of the ACS. And Martin’s initiatives in the interest of promoting high standards for American surgeons began even earlier, with the 1905 launch of a professional journal called "Surgery, Gynecology and Obstetrics."

The ACS Today

Still headquartered in Chicago, the city of its birth, the ACS boasts a membership of more than 77,000. Despite its name, the organization has roughly 4,000 members outside the United States, making it the world’s largest professional organization for surgeons. To ensure that its members continue to maintain the highest standards of surgical care, the ACS sponsors an ambitious program of continuing education. It also maintains an active presence in the nation’s capital, lobbying the U.S. Congress on issues of importance to the American surgical community.

ACS Publications

To keep in touch with its far-flung membership, the ACS issues a number of publications on a regular basis. The "ACS NewsScope" is a weekly newsletter circulated to members via e-mail. Monthly publications include the "Bulletin," a news magazine; "Surgery News," a newspaper; and the "Journal of the American College of Surgeons," a scientific journal. The organization also publishes a wide variety of nonperiodical manuals on different aspects of surgical care and professional standards.

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