Eugene S. Sullivan

Eugene S. Sullivan | ASCRS

1982 to 1983

For me, the greatest award from my close involvement with this Society has been the opportunity to associate with leaders in colon and rectal surgery; men and women of vision, dedication, and action, who have been, and are, a source of challenge, insight, and inspiration. Under their influence I presume, this morning, to suggest a goal for the future of our specialty. First, I wish to review some aspects of our past, with particular attention to the relationship with the academic community.


When this Society was founded at the beginning of this century, surgical training in this country was unstandardized, frequently self-taught, obtained through visiting a clinical center here or abroad, or by attending a series of lectures. With good fortune, one might be a preceptee to one of the eminent practitioners of the time. In our specialty, a tour to St. Mark's Hospital in London, soon to be celebrating its 150th anniversary, was the way chosen by Joseph Matthews, first president of this Society, and many of his, and our, colleagues who followed.


Formalized training of surgeons by the residency system in the United States, set forth by William Halstead in 1904 and shown effective at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, was gradually adopted by private and academic surgical training centers, and standardized, initially by the American Medical Association, and later joined by other interested accrediting agencies. Thus, Halstead's vision shaped the form of the residency system and has become the general pattern of training for most medical specialties.