ACP chapters offer myriad opportunities for involvement

ACP's chapters form the core of member involvement with the organization, as well as offer benefits in networking, learning and managing.

I have been involved in the Tennessee chapter of ACP for years and value the professional relationships and friendships that I have developed there. I could never have become as active as I have been in ACP without that launching pad, and I would like to encourage more involvement at the chapter level.

ACP now has 81 chapters throughout the world, with the most recent established in Saudi Arabia on Dec. 1. These chapters are a key resource for ACP members to interact with other internists in their area.

Our chapters offer many opportunities in advocacy, education, meeting planning and membership. Many of you may be unsure about how much time you have to offer. It's OK to volunteer for an hour a week or an hour a month or even an hour a year (for example, by helping at the annual chapter meetings).

Often, medical students' and residents' first interaction with ACP is by presenting abstracts at chapter meetings. But more involvement is also possible. At the Nevada chapter meeting this January, a first-year internal medicine resident approached me after I had mentioned in a talk how important it was for us to replenish the supply of general internists and to help those nearing retirement age maintain their practices. He asked how he might get in touch with practicing internists who might be looking for a new doctor in a couple of years. He preferred to avoid recruiters and try to find the right match. He has e-mailed me and I will certainly work with his chapter to try to make some connections.

Also, for those who wish to change geographic areas when looking for positions, governors of the chapters in your target region may know of opportunities. Please contact them directly, as this is one of the great values of the ACP chapter network.

Connections through ACP chapters could also help us link students and residents with mentors who could communicate what clinical practice is really like. This certainly could help expose residents to another world of medicine that they do not encounter in their residencies. It would help those in practice form a link with those still in training and perhaps help them find a good match for their practice. Are any chapters doing this now? If so, I would love to hear details. In any case, I would like to encourage other chapters to think about this and other ways to meet the needs of members.

In the past, ACP has hosted very successful online discussion groups at the leadership and member level. Participation in these online discussions has dwindled recently in an era of information overload. I would love to hear examples of how social media sites have been or could be used to facilitate communication at the chapter or full ACP level. I have thought of other areas that might be of interest:

  • internists using a particular electronic health record,
  • small groups who have linked (or are considering linking) with others virtually to save common administrative costs, buy an electronic medical record or even eventually to form a patient-centered medical home, and
  • internists discussing the practical challenges of running a practice.

If you are already active in ACP, consider enhancing that activity by letting others know about the benefits of ACP membership and participation. This can be in the doctors' lounge or following rounds with a colleague, mentee or learner. We can't begin emphasizing too soon the goals and aspirations of the College and the benefits of membership at every level. We can often have a huge impact by just bringing a colleague to the annual chapter meeting. This has a wonderfully positive ripple effect on others to do the same.

If you have wanted to be more involved in ACP but weren't quite sure how to arrange it, then feel free to e-mail me and I will pass your message along to your ACP governor. (Please include your city so we know where to send the request. If you have a particular area of interest, be sure to mention it.) The chapter governor is an important communications link between members and ACP. If you are an international member who is not in a chapter, then the international office and the International Council fill this function. The international office can be reached by e-mail.

Likewise, if you have other suggestions for ACP leadership, please let us know. For example, we are looking to involve hospitalists in ACP activities at all levels and also are looking for new ways to interact at the local level. Please share any ideas you have in this regard. If you are doing any work in your area that you think is helpful or have an idea you would like to pass on, please e-mail me. It is a pleasure serving as your president, and I would love to help enhance communication and chapter involvement.