I thought that ACR members might appreciate an unsolicited experiential report of the recent board of directors (BOD) meeting from the perspective of a practicing rheumatologist. Because this was my first meeting, I was filled with many impressions. Although I will share some highlights of the meeting, this article will not be a catalogue of all the issues that were discussed, because on March 24th members were sent via e-mail a summary of the board meeting. Instead, this report will focus on a process with which members may be unfamiliar.
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Explore This IssueMay 2009
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The meeting was held over three full days, Thursday through Saturday, from February 19–21, 2009, in Miami Beach, Fla. When you add an additional day for travel, this quarterly meeting was a four-day major commitment of time and energy for the approximately 30 volunteer physicians and allied health professionals and 19 ACR staff who participated. Thankfully, I am told that the three other meetings this year will not be as long.
The agenda notebook sent to me for reading prior to the meeting filled a very thick binder that occupied half of my carry-on bag and added greatly to its weight. Despite the location of the meeting—in a hotel with a beautiful sandy beach on the Miami Beach ocean boardwalk—we had very little opportunity to enjoy the weather because the meeting ran from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. This was not an activity for people with sore backs or difficulty sitting in chairs for hours at a time.
At the meeting, the 13 board members, 11 committee chairs, six executive committee members, and ACR’s legal counsel and executive vice president sat around the inner U-shaped table; the staff and other invited guests and speakers sat around the outer table. The executive committee members and executive vice president were backlit by the bright Florida sun piercing through a wall of windows behind them. This had the effect of creating halos around their heads, and I wondered if this effect was intentional.
One was immediately struck by the diversity of rheumatology backgrounds and constituencies present: education, research, and practice were all well represented. Sherine Gabriel, MD, president of the ACR, did her best to keep the meeting moving along, but compulsive rheumatologists seemed eager to discuss the nuances of every issue, and her job was extremely difficult, if not impossible. This trait, compulsiveness, which is common among rheumatologists, must be some type of passively acquired immune response that is activated whenever a rheumatologist is in close proximity to another rheumatologist. Of interest, there were no shy members, and all the board members actively participated in the sometimes lengthy debates.