It is hard for me to believe that I wrote my first column for The Rheumatologist over a year ago. The breadth and depth of issues addressed by the American College of Rheumatology in the past year have been incredible, and those that required the special attention of the president have been more than I might have anticipated.
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Explore This IssueNovember 2014
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My wife Jeanne and I knew from the beginning of our service that this would be a year of unprecedented travel for us. We have brought the good wishes of the ACR to rheumatology meetings on four continents and visited 11 countries in our travels. Our objectives were to see first hand the challenges and rewards of the practice of rheumatology around the world, to forge friendships with the people and associations we visited and to learn more about how the ACR might be engaged in the needs for education and other collaborations around the world.
Wearing the Simple Tasks fork around the world has sparked effective conversations about the plight of people with rheumatic disease with the curious lay folks, as well as professionals in rheumatology. I am grateful for this excellent symbol, and I am very proud to wear it.
The current ACR strategic plan calls for a global view of Advancing Rheumatology! This enlightened and invigorated our travels and was the reason the ACR created an International Task Force. We intend to engage with rheumatology professionals from many parts of the world to help us better understand what the ACR can do to help advance our great specialty globally. This task force is so important that I asked two future ACR presidents, Dr. Joan Von Feldt (who is about to become ACR president-elect) and Dr. Sharad Lakhanpal (who will continue as ACR treasurer), to guide it as co-chairs. The products of this task force will be realized during their terms as presidents.
As I prepared my final column, which is an annual report of sorts, I reviewed the list of action items from meetings of your Board of Directors since the last Annual Meeting. One of the overarching themes of the year’s work was information technology. This was a personal theme in my own professional life as well. Just prior to becoming president-elect, I joined Columbus Arthritis Center (CAC) and began using an electronic health record (EHR). It was daunting to transfer 30 years of experience with my patients to the EHR during my first six months at CAC, but I succeeded. I still miss the intrinsic beauty of my paper charts, meticulously organized and efficiently dictated, but I knew nostalgia would not help me be an effective rheumatologist in the future or serve as president of an association preparing its members for the new era medicine has entered.