As I begin my term as president of the ACR, I approach my work with great humility. It’s an almost unimaginable honor to be the steward of our great College for the next year. My challenge is to work with all of you, with the fantastic leadership, and with our incredible staff to advance rheumatology. There is much to accomplish in the coming year to meet the diverse needs of our membership—to enhance the value and impact of rheumatology in a changing healthcare environment and to represent the core values in support of our vision and mission: professionalism, sustainability, service, and innovation.
Strength in the Face of Challenges
One of the first efforts this coming year will be the development of the ACR’s 2013–2016 strategic plan. Continuing to represent a strong, unified front for rheumatology puts us at a distinct advantage when we meet with legislators, leadership of major insurers, and government officials that are responsible for the programs and regulations that affect our professional lives and our ability to care for our patients. Despite our small size, we represent our field from a position of strength in our many collaborative dealings: The Council of Specialty Societies, the American College of Physicians’ Council of Subspecialty Societies, American Board of Internal Medicine’s Liaison Committee on Recertification, and even the American Medical Association and various arms of the federal government. As the house of medicine struggles to unite, the ACR sets an example for all to emulate: we can accomplish so much more when we work together to achieve common goals.
I have been privileged to be a part of the culture of strategic thinking and planning over the past two decades at the ACR, and it has played a major role in my own professional development. Having served as a member of several strategic planning groups since 1994, I cochaired our last task force in 2009–2010 with Antony Rosen, MD. In fact, my experience with the ACR lies at the heart of my current administrative responsibilities at Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia as we seek to expand the reach and the reputation of our institution. We are creating novel educational opportunities, maximizing existing resources, and growing the faculty expertise and professional development programs, all on a background of enhanced revenue generation that will ensure the future of our outstanding programs and our commitment to the field of medicine. While I have just described my professional work, one could easily translate this to our work at the ACR:
- We have long been the major force that supports the educational needs of rheumatologists and rheumatology health professionals.
- Our journals give us access to cutting-edge science.
- We continue to develop the infrastructure and programming to meet the seemingly overwhelming practice-support needs.
- We have successfully implemented a robust advocacy program, and are engaged in meaningful policy discussions with national legislators.
- As the unified voice for the field, our expertise has been recognized as the authority in establishing standards for the profession. Practice guidelines, nationally recognized quality measures, and groundbreaking data collection tools set the standards for our practice and promise to support our drive to continuously improve patient care; strategic collaborations in these areas render us more efficient and far more effective.
- Our efforts to sustain our workforce and to support our training programs and trainees are remarkable among similar organizations. Support of our Foundation—the Rheumatology Research Foundation—serves to provide the principle source of non–National Institutes of Health research funding for disease-targeted research, as well as programs to advance research and training to improve the health of people with rheumatic disease and to ensure the future of rheumatology.
While we have made substantial strides, there is much work yet to be done. These are no simple tasks!
Goals for the Coming Year
As a part of our strategic planning process, one of my highest priorities for the coming year will be to build a robust program for professional development to cultivate the future leaders in every facet of our field. The skills and abilities I’ve acquired in my work with the ACR have translated into enhanced success in all parts of my professional life. It is possible to combine our chosen professional path with family responsibilities and still have time to do the work that we enjoy with our communities and our professional organization. We need to share the tools for success, the networking mechanisms for support, and the opportunities for more of our members to develop their leadership skills. A fully articulated, multidimensional program will develop these critical human resources and serve to advance the mission and vision for our field and for the ACR.