As I was perusing the SUS web page the other night, I came across a passage explaining the meaning of the elements displayed on the SUS logo. I must admit, prior to that evening I had never paid much attention to the logo nor its meaning, but since that time I find myself reflecting on the powerful message it sends to current, past and prospective members regarding the mission and values of the SUS. I suspect many of those reading this blog post may also be unfamiliar with the logo so let me take a few minutes to elaborate on what I feel the five elements of the logo represent. Please note, these reflect my personal opinions based on my experiences as an SUS member and may not necessarily represent those of the organization and its senior leadership.
It is stated: “The five elements in our logo symbolize:”
Nobility. The concept of nobility, to me, refers to the nobility of the mission of the SUS. The SUS exists not only to honor the accomplishments of academic surgeons by granting them membership into this prestigious society, but also to provide valuable mentorship and career development opportunities to its members – both current and future. All of this is done with a spirit of collegiality and inclusivity that further enhances the experience of SUS membership.
Purity. Of course this could be construed as a tenet stressing that surgeons in the SUS be of good moral character. This is indeed an important attribute for an SUS member, but I believe that this element may be interpreted in another way as well. The SUS, although highly prestigious, is an inclusive organization, not an exclusive one. Application for membership is encouraged from qualified candidates, and these qualifications for membership are clearly stated. Recently, the criteria have been appropriately updated to recognize the evolving and diverse areas within academic surgery. These objective criteria are clear and transparent. If a candidate meets the requirements as written then they are granted membership. This highly objective stance regarding membership ensures purity of the membership selection process.
Therapy. The activities of the SUS help ensure that surgical care is delivered at the highest level, and that its members propagate this knowledge through their academic endeavors. In doing so, they serve to raise the level of surgical care delivered throughout the United States and ensure the vitality of our profession.
Creativity. The SUS fosters an environment of intellectual curiosity, which subsequently leads to critical thought, focused research efforts, and creative solutions to surgically related clinical and scientific questions.
Scholarship. Perhaps the most obvious of the five elements, the SUS provides an intellectually stimulating environment for its members in many ways. This can be through educational programs focused on career development, a robust yearly meeting, and lifelong mentorship, among others. One only has to look at the list of past SUS leaders to quickly realize that many of these individuals are former and current thought leaders in American surgery.
In summary, I am proud to be an active member of the SUS. I feel this way not only for what it has done for my career, but also for what it represents and the manner in which it does so.