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

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College's history reflects commitment to ideals

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

Given the organization's shaky start, ACP's founding fathers would be overwhelmed at the College's recent milestone—100,000 members. After a visit to the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1913, Dr. Heinrich Stern tried to invoke enthusiasm in his colleagues for a similar organization in the United States. But it was two years before Dr. Stern could gather enough physicians—11—that he felt necessary to launch the new organization, the American College of Physicians.

From the College's first formal meeting in New York's Astor Hotel on June 25, 1915, the founding members viewed ACP as a way to improve the standards and recognition of internal medicine in this country. More than 80 years later, the College continues to strive to further these same ideals.

By 1917, 152 internists from throughout the United States had been named Fellows, and ACP had sponsored its first two annual meetings—known as Clinical Sessions—to facilitate scientific discussion among internists. (The first official Annual Session took place in 1927.) By 1925, membership included more than 1,000 Fellows, and the College had achieved a nationwide reputation for encouraging the practice of high quality internal medicine.

In 1919, the organization moved its headquarters from New York to Chicago; in 1926, ACP settled permanently in Philadelphia near the University of Pennsylvania where then-President Alfred Stengal was a faculty member. And in 1927, ACP began publishing Annals of Internal Medicine, which it had launched twice before under different names, The Annals of Medicine and Annals of Clinical Medicine.

By 1970 membership had reached 17,000 members. Staff also began to increase as the College expanded its role in research, education, publishing and policy. The College added two extensions to its headquarters as the staff grew from 29 members in 1959 to more than 100 in 1977. In 1982, the College appointed a Health and Public Policy Committee and opened an office in Washington, D.C.

A year before its 75th anniversary, in 1989, the headquarters moved from its Pine Street residence to 6th and Race streets, a new, larger building in the historic part of Philadelphia overlooking Independence Mall. The College carried its history with it, including the College seal from the wrought-iron gate and the ACP brass name plates from the original building. Staff grew from 160 employees in 1989 to more than 285 employees today, with the number expected to increase to 320 by the end of the year.

Annual Session coverage was compiled by Jennifer Fisher Wilson.


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