If someone had told me that one day I would serve as the 82nd president of the ACR, I would have thought it as likely as lassoing the moon. Now, with the gavel passed to me at our 2018 Annual Meeting, I assume this role in awe of the enormity of this honor, as well as the enormity of opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for the field of rheumatology and for the ACR, which serves us all.
How Did I Get Here?
My road to becoming a rheumatologist was hardly direct. In college, I was an English major, inspired by sublime and ethereal ideas and the prose and poetry that gave them form. At the time, I was not as enamored of the study of science, although I was always fascinated by the story of scientific discovery, particularly when a hypothesis had been proved through a series of elegant experiments. But what ultimately compelled me to apply to medical school was its guarantee that with enough hard work I would gain the necessary credentials for a meaningful career in which the basic job description was helping others through the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of intuition.
I feel incredibly fortunate to have attended New York University (NYU) School of Medicine and to have done all my professional training there, especially with its long and outstanding history as a pioneer in the study of rheumatic diseases. Despite the strong research focus of the division, I knew from the start that I was heading toward clinical practice, while keeping an academic foothold at NYU and enjoying the enrichment of teaching and interacting with house staff and students. I have, thus, spent my entire career in private practice, initially solo for eight years and then as part of a large, multispecialty group practice, for which I have been the CEO and managing partner for the past decade.
As I assumed more management responsibilities for my group, I again felt compelled to obtain the necessary credentials to do this job well—hence my path to an MBA and the study of business, which, given my undergraduate predilections, had never even remotely interested me. But I soon realized that almost all business is driven by a few basic principles or big ideas, which seem simplistic and obvious when stated, but are far more nuanced, complex and elusive in their application.