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Special Article
November 1, 2005

The Legacy of Claude H. Organ, Jr, MD, and the Residency Review Committee for Surgery

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Department of Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk, Va.

Arch Surg. 2005;140(11):1034. doi:10.1001/archsurg.140.11.1034

In a few years, the Residency Review Committee (RRC) for Surgery (Chicago, Ill) will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. Established in 1950, the RRC for Surgery was the first of the review committees for graduate medical education. With the oversight organization now being the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) (Chicago), there are now 27 RRCs, which encompass 26 core specialties and 115 subspecialties (Figure). The programmatic responsibilities of the RRC for Surgery are highlighted in Table 1.

Although Dr Organ was 1 of more than 100 surgeons to serve on the RRC for Surgery since its inception (Table 2), the impact of his substantial contributions to the committee and graduate medical education remains today. Dr Organ was a “natural” for the committee. He fully embodied the very principles and requirements that he was asked to enforce. In fact, his professional credo was a mirror image of the current ACGME mission objectives: emphasis on accreditation, competency, performance excellence, and outcome measures.

His objectivity was unparalleled. Dr Organ never allowed himself to be influenced by the political or social pressure of the day. He believed that there should be only 1 “strike zone” for all programs, with each program needing to be in substantial compliance with the ACGME requirements. Dr Organ was steadfast in his opposition to even a hint of possible modification or lowering of the standards to achieve what might be considered a laudable goal, for he felt that such an initiative would result in irreversible damage to both the program and the residents. However, he was tireless in his efforts to provide assistance and guidance to anyone who requested help.

The last full review of his program by the committee, just prior to him stepping down as chair and program director, resulted in the program receiving one of the infrequently given commendations for excellence. It was a fitting epilogue and a testimony to the life of the consummate professional. The RRC for Surgery and its responsibilities to maintain the highest-quality training programs reflect the extreme dedication of a few American surgeons. Dr Claude Organ will always be remembered as a true beacon in this effort.

As we look back on his stellar career, it becomes quite evident that any organization that Dr Organ was a member of became a better organization. I am not sure we will get an opportunity to witness anyone else with a more effective “Midas touch.”

Correspondence: L. D. Britt, MD, MPH, Department of Surgery, Eastern Virginia Medical School, 825 Fairfax Ave, Suite 610, Norfolk, VA 23507 (brittld@evms.edu).

Accepted for Publication: August 31, 2005.