American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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From the President

Celebrating the College's past, present and future

From the March 1997 ACP Observer, copyright 1997 by the American College of Physicians.

By Christine K. Cassel, FACP

This Annual Session the College will celebrate a milestone: 100,000 members. This is a historic event for the College and is taking place in a historic location.

Philadelphia is the real home of much of the leadership of internal medicine in this century. The College was formed and founded in 1915 and since 1926 has had its headquarters in Philadelphia. When the American Board of Internal Medicine was founded in 1928, it too was located in Philadelphia. Thus, it is fitting that we welcome our 100,000th member at an Annual Session in the City of Brotherly Love.

The term "brotherly love" should be considered gender neutral, particularly because of dramatic changes in the demography of medicine that have led to a shift in the makeup of internal medicine. Today, half of all young people going into internal medicine are women, and many are from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. This is a phenomenon we can celebrate as much as our growing numbers, for as we grow in diversity, our membership increasingly reflects the population of the country and the public whom we are privileged to serve.

We are privileged to hear a keynote address during this year's Annual Session from Jordan J. Cohen, MACP, president of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Cohen's stirring address on building a bridge to diversity was the talk of AAMC's annual meeting last fall and still stimulates discussion in many circles of medicine and medical education. At that time he discussed the changing population of the United States and the way in which medical education and the demography of the physician work force has lagged behind those changes. Dr. Cohen put these observations into the context of a moral call for medicine to become representative of the people it serves and to strive ever harder to serve all people. The College supports this goal unwaveringly and will support these values in the future as medicine faces increasingly unpredictable challenges.

The College faces many other important challenges. One is simply to keep up with the fantastic advances that biomedical science offers our patients. Another challenge is to fully understand what is needed for effective health care and, just as important, what is not. A third is to remember the core of charity that is at the very center of our profession. A fourth is to recognize our kinship with other medical professionals around the world, many of whom are less fortunate that ourselves.

Of all those in modern medicine, the ones most in tune with these four issues are today's medical students. As an educator, I find my contact with medical students a constant source of inspiration and a reminder of our profession's deep-seated values. As the well-known medical educator Robert Coles has pointed out, it is the job of medical educators not to ruin or obfuscate those values, but to encourage a professionalism in which caring human beings can continue to flourish. It is this challenge to education that the College considers its core mission, maintaining the excellence of medicine and advocating for the highest standards of professionalism and accountability.

Thus, we gather in Philadelphia to celebrate our organization, to welcome new members, and to honor more than 700 new Fellows. We will also gather to learn more about medicine, the tool that is at the core of our profession and allows us to continue to serve our patients.

It has been a pleasure and an honor to serve the College as your President this year. Thank you for making our College such a strong and vibrant force for professionalism and the quality of patient care.

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