With a long interest in the value of volunteering and advocating for rheumatology, William “Will” F. Harvey, MD, MSc, FACR, associate professor of medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, has now taken on a new role as ACR secretary. Here, Dr. Harvey talks about dealing with the variety of challenges facing the profession, his goals for the ACR in the coming year and beyond, and the importance of community to keep the profession going strong.
The Rheumatologist (TR): To start, the ACR secretary is a new volunteer position in that it was previously part of a joint secretary/treasurer post. Is that right?
Dr. Harvey: Yes and no. The two posts had been separate until several years ago, when the ACR went through a governance reorganization [and combined them], but leadership has since found that merging the positions wasn’t helpful with regard to the amount of work necessary to get both jobs done. Now, the secretary and treasurer are separate again and have staggered two-year roles, so the holder of each serves a two-year term, then becomes president elect for a year and finally ACR president. Because I am starting partway into the term, I will be secretary for 18 months before becoming president-elect of the ACR.
TR: What initiatives do you hope to continue or begin as ACR secretary?
Dr. Harvey: One of the roles of the ACR secretary relates to corporate relations, most of which involves interactions with pharmaceutical companies. As the economic environment continues to change, it will be important that we balance partnering with the industry to take better care of our patients and ensure the survival of our specialty while making sure the ACR, as the most respected authority in the specialty, maintains its independence and its voice.
Another focus is around member engagement. One of the aims of our current strategic plan is to increase engagement and collaboration across the global rheumatology community, with the hope of giving a voice to underrepresented groups as well as providing new opportunities for our diverse membership. It’s going to be very important for us to work on member engagement and counter the membership decline by reimagining and growing some of our activities, notably the annual meeting, ACR Convergence.
TR: You have held several volunteer posts with the ACR. What drove you to begin volunteering for the College?