One of the strong traditions of ACP is for its leadership—the officers, governors and committee chairs—to complete their service and quickly and gracefully turn over responsibilities to their successors, the new elected leaders of the College. After completing my year as President of the College, it is time to pass the baton.
This pattern of leadership change contrasts with many groups and businesses in which these positions are held much longer for continuity and stability of the organization. For ACP, consistency and quality depend upon the continual influx of new leaders and the devoted staff of the College, many of whom have served ACP for 10, 20 or even 30 years.
In review, this has been a very good year for ACP. We have exercised leadership in advocating for better access and higher quality medical care. We have worked hard to develop excellent materials and courses for continuing medical education, and we remain devoted to high standards in medical ethics and professionalism. We have continued to emphasize participation by students, residents and members of the College in developing our educational programs, clinical guidelines, MKSAP, and grassroots advocacy activities. The Annals of Internal Medicine has increasingly brought value and honor to our profession. We are a fiscally responsible, well-organized and highly respected medical organization.
As I look back on the year, I have genuinely enjoyed attending meetings of ACP chapters, committees, and boards of Regents and Governors as well as representing ACP at meetings convened by other organizations and government. Meetings in so many different venues show our diversity, but they also make it easy to see our shared values: the importance of serving patients, the value of learning and communicating, and our responsibility to demonstrate character, integrity and professionalism.
Before the year began, I did not quite appreciate the frequency with which members of the press turned to ACP for a comment, quote or some basic information. The requests range from how to treat a cold or care for a sprain to, more frequently, comments on a major health controversy or a new report from the College. Because of our leadership in advocating for better access to health care, higher quality of care, more support for health information systems and improved scientific evidence, we have moved more and more into the public spotlight. In the U.S., ACP is now at the vanguard of advocacy for changes in health care and medical practice, and, as ACP President, I have often been asked to comment on these important issues.
As this year draws to a close, it is easy to describe the work we have done, but it is also easy to see that the work has only begun or is only partially done. There has been no substantial change in access to health care in America. In fact, there are more uninsured than ever. The ideas and ideals of the patient-centered medical home are only being tested; they are not yet proven or implemented. Our membership and capacity to “touch and influence others” have plenty of room to grow. The relationships of the College and the American Board of Internal Medicine, the American Medical Association and many other medical organizations still need to be nurtured. We have really only begun to reach out beyond the Americas to learn and share with physician colleagues around the world as a part of the international circle of medicine. There is clearly a busy and important agenda for ACP in the years ahead.
On May 17, I pass the gavel and the other symbols of the presidency to my successor, Jeff Harris, FACP, of Winchester, Virginia, at our annual business meeting. As I do, it is with great appreciation for this opportunity and great affection for the values and traditions of our College.