Newswise — CHICAGO—Last night, the American College of Surgeons (ACS) presented George F. Sheldon, MD, FACS, a general surgeon from Chapel Hill, NC, with its 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award during Convocation Ceremonies that preceded the official opening of the ACS Annual Clinical Congress in Chicago. The award, only the second given in ACS history, honors Dr. Sheldon’s lifetime contribution to the art of medicine and surgery, and his service to the American College of Surgeons.
A native of Salina, KS, Dr. Sheldon received his medical degree from Kansas University Medical School in 1961, where he earned the L. L. Marcell Award for Highest Academic Standing in Medicine and was elected vice-president of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. After completing an internship at Kansas University Medical Center, Dr. Sheldon served in the United States Public Health Service Marine Hospital System where he was senior assistant surgeon (Lieutenant), 1962–1963, and surgeon (Lieutenant Commander), 1963–1964. Following his military service, Dr. Sheldon undertook a fellowship in internal medicine at the Mayo Clinic from 1964 to 1965. He went on to complete a residency in surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center (1965–1969), during which he received the Helmut Fesca Award for Outstanding Resident.
After his residency, Dr. Sheldon became a research fellow in surgical biology at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital at Harvard University (1969–1971) and then became an assistant professor (1971–1975), associate professor (1975–1980), and professor (1980–1984) in the department of surgery at the University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco. At San Francisco General Hospital, he was chief of trauma and hyperalimentation services (1972–1984), a program that trained both resident and military surgeons prior to the latter groups’ deployments to Vietnam. In 1984, he was named professor and chairman of the department of surgery at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (UNC) and the Zack D. Owens Distinguished Professor of Surgery at the university. In 2001, Dr. Sheldon stepped down from those positions and accepted the position of professor of social medicine and surgery, allowing him to continue teaching a popular history of medicine course and conducting health policy research. Eventually, UNC named two distinguished lectureships in his name, and the Surgical Interest Group at UNC, for medical students who are interested in surgery, is also named in his honor. In 2011, Dr. Sheldon received the UNC Thomas Jefferson Award, which embodies Thomas Jefferson’s ideals, objectives and vision of higher education.
Dr. Sheldon became a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons in 1973 and has been an active participant in the College’s activities for almost four decades. He was elected to the ACS Board of Governors in 1976 and served on its Executive Committee and as Secretary of the Board of Governors (1979–1982), as well as Chair of the Governor's Committee to Study the Fiscal Affairs of the College (1980–1981). From 1984 to 1993, he served on the ACS Board of Regents, and, as a Regent, Dr. Sheldon served on more than ten ACS committees or task forces and became Editorial Advisor for the Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons. He has participated in and organized many courses held at the annual ACS Clinical Congress and he presented the Opening Ceremonies Lecture of the ACS Clinical Congress in 1978, gave the Scudder Oration for the Committee on Trauma during the 1991 Clinical Congress, and at the 2009 Clinical Congress he delivered the Edward D. Churchill-Excelsior Surgical Society Lecture.
Further, Dr. Sheldon served as ACS President (1998-1999), a term that ushered in creation of the ACS Resident and Associates Society, which was formed to benefit the surgeons of the future through involvement in College activities. In 2004, he became the founding Editor-in-Chief of the ACS members-only Web portal, which grew to include 28 communities, and 200 editors and associate editors. In 2008, he became founding Director of the ACS Health Policy Research Institute (HPRI) and enlisted the part-time support of 160 researchers at the UNC Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Service Research. Since that time, HPRI has published 70 documents describing issues related to the state of the surgical profession, the surgical workforce, and surgical utilization in the United States.
Dr. Sheldon’s professional honors are numerous and impressive. He is one of the few surgeons in the last century to have been president of almost every major surgical organization in the United States. In addition to ACS, he has been president of the American Surgical Association, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, the Society of Surgical Chairmen, and the Uniformed Services University Surgical Service Visiting Board, and chair of the American Board of Surgery. He is the first surgeon, not a dean, to be chairman of the Association of American Medical Colleges since 1879. He is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and was a charter member of the Council on Graduate Medical Education when it was founded in 1985.
Further, Dr. Sheldon holds honorary fellowship in the Royal Colleges of Surgeons of England and Edinburgh, the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland, the
European Surgical Association, the Colombian Surgical Association, and the Society of Black Academic Surgeons. He is a member of the James IV Association of Surgeons and is listed in Who’s Who in America. In 2003, he was named a Distinguished Service Member by the Association of American Medical Colleges. A prolific author and researcher, Dr. Sheldon has published more than 400 scientific articles and book chapters, as well as eight books, and he serves on multiple editorial boards.
The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational organization of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical practice and to im-prove the care of the surgical patient. The College is dedicated to the ethical and competent practice of surgery. Its achievements have significantly influenced the course of scientific surgery in America and have established it as an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 78,000 members and it is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.