American College of Physicians is an international organization
The American College of Physicians was founded by eleven physicians in 1915 in New York. It became an international society with the opening of the Canadian Chapter in 1927. Several international chapters followed: Central America (1928), Mexico (1941), Chile (1984), Brazil (1992), Venezuela (1994), and Japan (2003).
As the College has grown, its international members in the international chapters and other locales have grown, also. There are now more than 2,100 Canadian members, more than 1,000 in Mexico and more than 700 in Japan. Almost 1,500 members of ACP live in areas without an organized ACP chapter, the largest number residing in Saudi Arabia, where there are more than 100 members.
Many international members come to ACP's annual meetings in the U.S., often combining trips to the annual meeting with the opportunity to see friends, mentors, and family here. Personal contact with the College often comes through the annual visits of College representatives to chapter meetings and at internal medicine society meetings in many locales. Regularly, the College sends representatives to each chapter meeting and often also sends an international speaker through our International Speakers Program. Usually, the organizing committee of the local meeting pays for the living expenses of the speaker, and ACP supports the speaker's travel costs. Within the last three years, all of the Latin American chapters have had international speakers, as well as the Atlantic Provinces in Canada, the ACP chapter in Japan and countries where there is no ACP chapter, including Argentina, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Ghana, India, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sri Lanka, and Switzerland.
The International Reception at Internal Medicine has become one of the major events at our annual meeting. These receptions present a special opportunity to meet awardees of our ACP International Fellowship Exchange Program that this year awarded eight physicians with the opportunity to spend two to three months studying in the U.S. and attend the annual meeting. This year's awardees came from Ghana, Chile, Nigeria, India, Portugal, Venezuela and Pakistan. This is a wonderful, rewarding way for the College to invest in the future of our profession and the relationships of ACP with medicine throughout the world.
Over the years, the College has sponsored and cooperated in many international meetings for continuing education, including a meeting last year and again this year in Mexico. We cooperate with the International Society of Internal Medicine and the World Congress of Internal Medicine to share the resources of the College and to build collegiality with internists around the world. We also participate actively in meetings such as the Sociedad Latino Americana de Medicina Interna Congress and the Congress of the European Federation of Internal Medicine.
The College cooperates with many international non-profit groups with international programs and encourages individual members to participate in international medical education through the Health Volunteers Overseas Program. Through Health Volunteers Overseas, there are currently programs in Cambodia, India, Peru, St. Lucia, and Uganda. The Eurasian Medical Education Project fosters education and development of effective management strategies for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in Russia in a number of remote locales. Recently, the College also donated copies of the medical knowledge self-assessment programs (MKSAP) to a Vietnamese library. All of these programs are described on the ACP Web site at www.acponline.org/college/international.
The ACP has also become an international organization also as the number and proportion of members who are international medical graduates has increased steadily over recent years. Currently, 25-30% of ACP members residing in the U.S. are international graduates, with the largest numbers having received their training in India and Pakistan. In recent years, numerous members of the Board of Governors and Board of Regents of ACP have been distinguished international medical graduates.
Recently, the Strategic Planning Committee for the College invested considerable time working with the International Subcommittee of our Membership Committee, thinking ahead to ways to strengthen our international ties and expand these relationships. I hope you will think about the College as an international organization and consider the role that you play and would like to play in our international activities. I believe this is a very important part of the College today, as well as our future.
I am very proud of the role that ACP is playing in international continuing medical education and professionalism. I believe the personal relationships we build with physicians around the world bring both satisfaction to us and build the bonds of friendship, which are so important for improving healthcare and international relationships. It is one of the best things that we can do.
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