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

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The College's PR campaign

It's about time ACP started promoting internal medicine, particularly general internal medicine (PR campaign for internal medicine, January ACP Observer, p. 1). Nobody knows who we are and what we do. The family practitioners have tried to take over our space. In my area, the FPs insist that what internists know is not important. We need vocal advocacy.

Irwin Abraham, ACP Member
Rochester, N.Y.

I am delighted that the College is going forward with a public relations campaign for internal medicine. We use a patient information booklet in our practice that explains to our patients just what the practice of internal medicine is all about.

Marvin Garrell, FACP
Bridgeport, Conn.

I was pleased to note that the College will undertake an intensive public relations campaign highlighting the benefits of having an internist as one's physician. In my contact with medical students as a teaching attending and as a program director and department chairman, it has never ceased to amaze me that the vast majority of students have no idea what an internist is or what an internist does.

While the College is planning to spend several million dollars on the campaign, there is a much cheaper—and simpler—way to accomplish this goal. Since 1991, I have conducted regular teaching sessions with third-year medical clerks. We go through data describing the roles and duties of an internist and the many career paths available to internists. I then contrast this with other fields of primary care in medicine. The students are typically astounded to see that internal medicine is such a broad and encompassing field of practice.

During my time at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, I noted that this simple procedure resulted in a five-fold increase in the numbers of students who choose internal medicine. It furthermore resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of students who applied to our residency program.

I have continued the same process since becoming chairman at the University of North Dakota. Again, we have had a six-fold increase in the number of students who have decided to go into internal medicine over family practice. This costs me only one hour of teaching time with the students. We have a lot of fun discussing the benefits and joys of internal medicine, and even those who do not choose to go into internal medicine leave with a much better sense of what internists do.

Focusing on the small things that practicing internists can do can not only save a tremendous amount of money, but it emphasizes why each of us chose the wonderful profession that we're in.

Charles Foulks, FACP
Fargo, N.D.

I recall expressing my enthusiasm for a public relations campaign for internal medicine while a member of the Federated Council for Internal Medicine and president of the Society of General Internal Medicine. I continue to believe that this is one of the most important activities the College will undertake in the next decade or two. I support the College and its leadership in these efforts.

Eric B. Larson, FACP
Seattle, Wash.

Editor's note: ACP's three- to five-year, multi-million dollar public relations campaign for internal medicine will be launched this spring. A video detailing the program will be shown at the ACP booth at Annual Session in Philadelphia and will be available to chapters. Reprints of the articles, PR campaign for internal medicine (January ACP Observer, p. 1) and Promoting internal medicine: Is it time for change (January ACP Observer, p. 2) are available from the College's communication department at 800-523-1546, ext. 2532.

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