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John Tooker, FACP, named College EVP-CEO

From the February ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2002 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

By Phyllis Maguire

After interviewing candidates from around the country during a nine-month search, ACP-ASIM did not need to go far to find a new Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer. In December, the College announced that John Tooker, FACP, MBA, the College's Deputy Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, had accepted the EVP-CEO position. He will succeed current EVP-CEO Walter J. McDonald, FACP, on July 1, 2002.

Dr. Tooker said he is thrilled to be given the opportunity to lead the nation's largest specialty society. One of his main goals, he added, will be helping the College continue to build on its strengths in education, advocacy and information.

"Internal medicine has always been a difficult profession because of the long hours and the lifelong learning curve," he said. "But internists today face major challenges just maintaining an office. They now practice in a tough regulatory and business climate, while keeping up with constant changes in medical care and patient safety concerns. The College's challenge is to understand those new realities and find ways to help members thrive within them."

Dr. TookerDr. Tooker also intends to continue the College's strong commitment to professionalism. "As a professional society, the College has to help members foster and maintain professionalism in internal medicine, to put patients' needs before business needs," he said. "I see that as one of the College's core responsibilities."

Another challenge, he explained, will be to respond to members' changing informational needs. "HIV was unheard of 20 years ago, yet now it has had a major impact on many of our practices," Dr. Tooker said. "Patient safety and medical response to bioterrorism are two emerging areas where the College needs to inform and guide members."

Advocacy efforts

Dr. Tooker has served as the College's Deputy EVP since 1995 and was named Chief Operating Officer in 1999. During his time with ACP-ASIM, he said he has seen the College undergo dramatic changes.

While the 1998 merger between ACP and ASIM created a stronger and more robust organization, he explained, the College has also become more complex. In addition to providing educational services and member benefits, ACP-ASIM has focused more energy on advocacy efforts. (The College also created the ACP-ASIM Foundation to award grants to further the College's goals.)

As a result, ACP-ASIM has become more active as a national player within organized medicine. The College, for example, has played an increasingly influential role in national efforts to broaden health care access and improve medicine's regulatory environment.

Dr. Tooker said he intends to continue an important legacy of Dr. McDonald's: working within organized medicine to maintain strength through numbers. "Much of the credit for the College's higher profile has to go to Dr. McDonald," he explained. "He made sure that the College got a seat at the table of medical forums around the country and throughout the world, and he forged important relationships with leaders of other medical societies. I fully intend to continue those efforts."

While Dr. Tooker said he sees the College expanding its advocacy efforts on his watch, he intends to put an equal emphasis on growing the College's evidence-based educational and informational programs, including MKSAP and the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Project guidelines.

Years of service

Dr. Tooker's new position with the College follows years of service to the organization. Awarded Fellowship in 1980, he served on the Board of Regents from 1993 to 1995, as Chair of the Board of Governors from 1994 to 1995 and as Governor for the Maine Chapter from 1990 to 1994.

He is also a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, has served as an alternate delegate to the AMA and has lectured and published widely.

A Colorado native, Dr. Tooker received his medical degree from Colorado University in 1970 and went on to residencies at New York's Bellevue Hospital Center and at the University of Colorado Medical Center. Pulmonary fellowships followed at Maine Medical Center in Portland, Maine, and at Seattle's University of Washington.

Dr. Tooker worked at the Maine Medical Center for 18 years in a variety of positions, while also holding teaching positions at Tufts University School of Medicine and the University of Vermont School of Medicine. His positions at Maine Medical Center included assistant chief of the critical care medicine department and the director of the Maine Rural Practice Network. He was vice-chairman of the internal medicine department and internal medicine residency program director there when he became the College's Deputy EVP in 1995.

Since coming to Philadelphia, Dr. Tooker has been able to stay in touch with members' concerns by teaching and practicing pulmonology and general internal medicine part-time at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. While he will have to give up patient care duties when he becomes EVP-CEO, he will be able to attend more chapter meetings and meet with members directly.

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