In the months leading up to the start of my year as ACR president, I’ve heard two questions over and over: Are you ready? and What do you plan to do as ACR president?
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Explore This IssueDecember 2007
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Ready or Not!
The first question might well be regarded as a sign of skepticism on the part of the questioner. An interpretation only slightly less disquieting might be that this inquiry is an indirect expression of sympathy for the inevitable disruption of any ACR president’s professional and personal life that accompanies the year’s hectic travel schedule.
One way of answering this question is to consider what the ACR does to prepare a member to lead the college for a year. The time spent as an ACR officer (following prior years as a volunteer on various ACR committees) is really an apprenticeship that gives a future president ample opportuinity to learn about the ACR’s structure and constituencies, the talents and responsibilities of the staff, the types of issues that can arise quickly, and the long-term challenges that take many years to solve. It’s vital that the ACR president understand how the staff, board of directors, and committee functions intermesh.
Equally essential is the appreciation of how necessary it is for ACR members to be kept up to date about what’s happening in the College, and for the officers and staff to know about and respond to concerns of the members in a timely manner. Better communication has been a consistent focus of each ACR president over the past few years and is the foundation for a cohesive college that actively engages the skills and creativity of its membership. In the coming year we can look forward to the expansion of the Regional Advisory Council (RAC) to allow state rheumatology societies to each have a representative on this important body. The RAC, under the umbrella of the Committee on Rheumatologic Care, focuses on practice and reimbursement issues that challenge ACR members across the country. The RAC serves as a vital communications link to ensure that the staff and leadership of the ACR are constantly kept aware of the concerns of our practitioners.
I’ve been especially fortunate to serve as an officer with three outstanding ACR presidents—Betsy Tindall, MD, Peggy Crow, MD, and Neal Birnbaum, MD—and I have learned a great deal from each of them. The ACR structures its officer team to include both academics and practitioners, not just to reflect the diversity of its membership but to bring together the broadest combination of experience and ability. This is essential to tackling the full range of issues that we face, from fair reimbursement for office procedures to the training of future physician-scientists.