The Value of Membership


Scott C. Nelson, DPM, FACFAS
ACFAS President

What does it mean to be a member of some­thing? Is it simply doing something symbolic – like wearing a “members only” jacket to demonstrate you belong to a group? Can you place a deeper, measurable value on membership? 

Those are interesting questions. I believe the symbolic gestures are an important way of communicating you belong to an institu­tion or group, like the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons (ACFAS). And, while people may join the College for the tangible benefits, such as the educational programs and practice support, I think they see real value in belonging to a highly reputable professional organization, which attracts like-minded peers who are commit­ted to principles of lifelong learning to benefit their patients. Ultimately though, each ACFAS Fellow is an individual, with their own reasons for being members. As a member for 17 years, and now as Board president, I have learned, firsthand, our members attribute a variety of rewarding experiences to being part of the College—each of us with our own story, including me. 

My first experience with the College dates back to my first year of residency, when I presented a poster project at the Annual Scientific Conference. This was before we had resident members and, at my program, first-year residents rarely got the opportunity to attend the meeting. I was so determined to be there that I got permission from my fellow residents to take vacation time for the trip. When my residency directors found out about my plan, they were less than impressed. The only thing that kept me from suffering significant repercussions from the program was probably the fact I brought home a first-place prize. I would not say all was forgiven, but the relationship was saved. Since that experience, I have not missed a meeting, even a couple years later when I had a pregnant wife who agreed to let me present my research project! 

Over the years, I have found attending the Annual Scientific Conference to be an extremely valuable opportunity to experience new thoughts and ideas, and to connect with old and new friends. I have been fortunate to attend multiple learning experiences, including arthroscopy and cadaveric courses, and learn the intricacies of total ankle replacement procedures. For me, challenging my thoughts; learning new procedures and techniques; and feeling plugged into a community are what I get the most out of belonging to the College. It is how I measure the meaning of membership. 

Maybe your experience is similar to mine or maybe you value your membership for com­pletely different reasons. That’s really the strength of membership in the College and all it offers. And since we’re in membership renewal “season,” I also wanted to highlight some of the new things the College has put in place this year that underscore the value of being a member. 

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the College created practice management tools to help you get a handle on things like tele­health resources and financial aid updates and we reworked our in-person events to be in compliance with strict PPE guidelines. 

Overall, we’ve upped our technology game. We moved some of our learning opportuni­ties online and we continue to revamp our education programs to include more virtual content to ensure your learning doesn’t stop during a pandemic. Plus, in response to member feedback, we have launched an auto renewal process to make renewing your membership quick and easy. We also reworked the early career dues structure and eliminated late fees for the year. And, with the generous help of the Regions, 2021 Region Dues were waived. 

So, as Fellows of the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, we don’t have “members only” jackets, but we all have the shared experience of adding FACFAS to our names – on our business cards, CVs and our white coats. Symbolic? Sure. But is there deeper meaning and value behind the FAC­FAS? Absolutely.