Following the 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting when the formal transition in volunteer leadership occurred, my overwhelming thought has been that it is an honor and privilege to serve you as the 81st president of the ACR. Honor stems from the heritage of excellence and progress that defines this organization. Privilege comes from the opportunity to represent the amazing group of rheumatology clinicians, researchers, educators, administrators, trainees, volunteers and professional staff that devote their talent and hard work to improving the lives of people with rheumatic and musculoskeletal disease.
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Explore This IssueDecember 2017
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Working with the diverse group of people who make up our organization is remarkably rewarding. Just as rheumatologists enjoy the process of working to understand and treat a wide range of medical conditions, meeting and working with individuals from a wide range of backgrounds with varied skills and interests are highly energizing and inspiring activities.
I started my volunteer work on the ACR Committee on Rheumatology Training and Workforce Issues (COTW), where I worked with fellowship training program directors dedicated to providing the best rheumatology education possible. It was great fun. Another great early experience was being selected to participate in the ACR/EULAR Exchange Program. My work on COTW led to serving on the Scientific Advisory Council of the Rheumatology Research Foundation during the time the Foundation was assuming the responsibility to manage an expanding grants portfolio.
Following a term as chair of the COTW, I had the opportunity to continue working with the Foundation. I have witnessed the Foundation complete two highly successful fundraising campaigns that have resulted in significantly increased funding for innovative research, career development and training of new fellows. These successes have provided critical support to the rheumatology workforce and helped ensure the ongoing success of our academic programs, which are the foundation of training and research in rheumatology, at a time when other traditional sources of support have dwindled.
The ACR and its members, as well as many individual rheumatology providers, have long been the backbone of inspiration and support for the Foundation. Similarly, the collaboration with members of the ARHP that I have witnessed as a member of the ACR Board of Directors, on committee assignments and on the ACR Executive Committee has been impressive. These interactions have made it very clear that the strength and success of our organization come from having the many diverse members of the rheumatology community part of a single organization.
I distinctly remember my first ACR committee meeting and how surprised I was to learn just how many different activities the ACR is involved in. This list has grown even larger as the field and the needs of our members have grown. From education to practice support to workforce development to quality improvement to advocacy, I can honestly report that the ACR is firing on all cylinders. It is actively achieving significant success in all of its varied activities while maintaining fiscal stability.