The ACR has elected a small group of division directors from across the country to serve on the Division Directors Special Committee. The goals of this committee: to better understand the needs of academic rheumatology programs and share with these programs new resources from the ACR and other organizations to support the needs of those leading academic divisions and preparing future rheumatologists for practice.
Leslie Crofford, MD, recently stepped into her latest volunteer role with the ACR as committee chair. She is director of the Division of Rheumatology & Immunology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn., and a natural fit to lead this new subcommittee.
“As the rheumatology community explores new approaches to support the missions of research, education and specialized clinical practice, this constituent-based committee of division directors has more influence than any other group on the health of academic divisions and can funnel important information to and from these leaders,” Dr. Crofford says.
Building a Future for Rheumatology
Dr. Crofford brings first-hand knowledge from her division director role to lead this subcommittee, including five years in her current role, eight years in a similar division director position at the University of Kentucky, and prior to that, eight years as a faculty member and director of rheumatology training at the University of Michigan.
In addition to her administrative work at Vanderbilt University, she leads an active research program focused on inflammation and pain in rheumatic diseases and says her most rewarding time is spent mentoring and developing junior faculty and fellows.
Her work is driven by a longstanding passion for clinical rheumatology, a fascination with the science and the long-term relationships rheumatologists build with their patients.
An extension of her fascination with rheumatology is her longstanding dedication to the ACR, which spans more than 25 years and includes volunteering for various roles. Early in her career, she began working with the ACR in planning for the Annual Meeting before moving into committee leadership on research and journal publications. In 2005, she led the work of the Rheumatology Research Foundation and became the Foundation president. She is now serving as the deputy editor of Arthritis Care & Research.
During her committee work on academic workforce issues, the need for a division directors group was first raised. Dr. Crofford’s extensive professional history leading academic rheumatology programs made her a natural fit to chair this special committee dedicated to the work of division directors.
From Strategic Plan to Action
Dr. Crofford describes division directors as “the lynchpin of the work the ACR is forging to support the academic workforce and ensure a strong future for the rheumatology profession.”
She says putting the ACR’s new strategic plan into practice requires a dedicated focus on data and data collection to understand the needs of academia and be swift to meet these needs. The Division Directors Special Committee has several important goals for the year ahead:
- Collect data about the state of the academic workforce;
- Share resources with division directors, such as the toolkit developed by the ACR;
- Mentor new division directors across the country;
- Plan the Division Directors’ Conference this March; and
- Plan the Joint Program Directors’ and Division Directors’ Forum (in collaboration with the Committee on Training and Workforce) at the ACR/ARP Annual Meeting in Atlanta this fall.
A Personal Note
Balancing her busy schedule at Vanderbilt University and with the ACR, Dr. Crofford takes every opportunity to enjoy the outdoors. She spends much of her time at her family farm in the Ozark foothills of Arkansas, where she helps raise the family’s herd of Black Angus cattle. When she’s not tending the herd, she can be found fly-fishing and hiking around the farm with her two chocolate Labrador retrievers.
Be sure to register for the Division Directors Conference and the Program Directors Conference, both of which will be held March 8 and 9 in Chicago.
Carina Stanton is a freelance science journalist based in Denver.