New College leaders to focus on post-merger strengths
The College's new elected officials, who took office during the Annual Session Business Meeting, plan to apply ACP-ASIM's post-merger organizational clout to strengthen advocacy positions and member services. Here are some of their goals for the upcoming year:
President: Dr. Addington
During his presidency, Whitney W. Addington, FACP, plans to focus on addressing the threats to internal medicine.
"[These threats] come from insurance payers in terms of restrictive referral and practice options," he said. "They come from government in the virtual harassment of physicians doing their work, when the strong threat of punitive action is not conducive to good care. And they come from ourselves as physicians and our inability to promote practice in underserved areas."
Refocusing on reforming the health care system is one way to address these concerns, said Dr. Addington, director of the Rush Primary Care Institute at the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago and president of the Chicago Board of Health.
"The system has robbed both our patients and our profession of the capacity to improve the health of our patients and communities," said Dr. Addington. "We have to help the College identify those conditions that are essential to good physician-patient relationships."
The key to focusing on these issues, he emphasized, is having a strong and unified voice in medicine. "We have learned through our merger with ASIM that we're much more effective speaking with one voice," Dr. Addington said. "By joining with other specialty groups to address issues, we should get even more accomplished."
Chair, Board of Regents: Dr. Gullen
Increasing interaction between Regents and Governors and focusing on electronic communications are among this year's goals for David J. Gullen, FACP, the new Chair of the Board of Regents.
Dr. Gullen said that the two boards will work on refining the resolution process, the principal means Governors use to advise the Regents.
Dr. Gullen, a practicing internist with Phoenix Medical Associates Inc. in Phoenix, also intends to promote increased use of electronic communications among members to encourage their input into College policy-making.
"We're going to be looking very hard at ways to support our members in their various working environments, and we'll continue to make our Web site more robust," he said. ACP-ASIM Online "has become a very significant way to get feedback from members and to add value to their membership," Dr. Gullen continued.
Dr. Gullen said he also plans to emphasize the importance of the physician-patient relationship. "That relationship should be considered paramount and almost sacred when we consider all the changes that are happening in health care," he said.
In addition, Dr. Gullen said he will work to continue to expand and improve the College's educational programs in order to appeal to more members, and to increase attendance at Annual Session and at chapter and postgraduate meetings.
Chair, Board of Governors: Dr. Wheby
As this year's Board of Governors Chair, Munsey S. Wheby, FACP, will focus on developing the advisory role of the Board of Governors. He has already begun working to strengthen the role of Governors as vice chairs of College committees.
He also plans to encourage Governors to develop the best way to communicate with chapter members. "They need to bring grassroots opinions back to the Board of Governors," Dr. Wheby said. "My job is to be sure I'm listening to and considering all of the diverse opinions."
That role will be critical in exploring one of the biggest issues facing the College in the coming year: whether or not to recommend establishing a political action committee (PAC) to ACP-ASIM Services, Inc., the corporate entity that might ultimately administer a PAC for internists if the idea is approved.
"[The PAC] is an important item that's somewhat polarizing within the organization," Dr. Wheby said. "It underlines the importance of facilitating the interaction between the two boards and finding out members' opinions. We want to bring about the best solution for the most members."
Dr. Wheby is professor of medicine and senior associate dean at the University of Virgina School of Medicine in Charlottesville, Va.
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