ACP bridges perspectives within internal medicine

ACP can serve as a virtual agora where the different professional branches can draw from their common root of internal medicine, and bridge differences by providing a space where members can talk through and think through different perspectives while remaining connected to patient care.

There are 152,000 ACP members today. Over the last hundred-plus years, your College has grown with you and with the practice of medicine.

As your new President, I am in awe of all that you contribute to the practice of medicine in the clinic, hospital, classroom, board room, public health office, and other settings. Internal medicine training bears fruit in more than the anticipated settings.

You are students and trainees in residency and fellowship programs, as well as practicing or retired physicians. Your practices are broad ranging: general internal medicine, subspecialty, and sub-subspecialty practices. Your practice locations vary from rural to urban, including a new term I recently learned from colleagues at the University of Illinois, micro-urban. There are multiple types of practices: private, hospital-based, group, solo, academic, military, concierge, administrative, research, and more. Like the rest of the country, you vary in ethnicity, country of origin, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and family structure.

Still, we all identify as internists. We care for adults, and we share the value and enjoyment of thinking through medical problems. It is a great honor to serve as your President of the American College of Physicians.

To tell you a little bit about me, I am a second-generation female physician, mother of two, and medical oncologist with expertise in women's cancers, integrative oncology, and telemedicine. I am an immigrant. I am the daughter of two physicians, pathologists, who came to the United States for residency.

I remember my father's stories of landing in New York City on his way to residency in Chicago and finding that the airlines were on strike. His stories of boarding a Greyhound bus, of witnessing the expanse of his new country, and of eating his first hot dog still fill me with awe. Like all of you, like all of us, he was intent on doing his best and figuring it out.

When my mother arrived with us, two girls, he had arranged for a place for his young family at the Y. To him, as a new immigrant, the name “Young Men's Christian Association” seemed to be a safe harbor. There we lived before we moved to an apartment close to the hospital. And there, my sister and I gained our earliest memories of the States, enjoying banana milkshakes and watching Captain Kangaroo. My parents came for residency and fellowship, became citizens, and contributed to the care of patients as pathologists. Although I chose oncology as my field of practice, I grew up with the keen awareness that multiple experts were needed to care for a patient.

My parents eventually retired. My father will be gone three years in May. As I have grown older, my respect for their amazing transition is a daily inspiration. How many of us would have the strength and resilience to leave home and country with the passion for knowledge, learning, and gaining better skills to practice medicine as the fuel?

In the last year, I have had the opportunity to travel and to meet many of you and to learn more about what fuels you. I look forward to meeting more of you in the year to come. I thank you for the unique privilege to stop and listen. You have shown me that across state and national boundaries, there are many similarities in interests, concerns, and goals whether in practice, education, or investigation and that everywhere, everyone is doing their best to move the needle forward. That energy that you have when you share the passion for your work is the energy that fuels the College, for you are the College.

In this next year, I would like to invite your thoughts and engagement. I invite you to share why you are a member. What does membership mean to you? How might membership be more meaningful to you? Please let the College know. Please email me to let me know what you're thinking. Please share this invitation and your thoughts with colleagues as you see fit. This process of coming together, sharing and learning together, is integral to our history. It fuels our sense of purpose and fulfillment as we tend towards social interaction and we seek meaning.

Your College can serve as a virtual agora where the different professional branches can draw from their common root of internal medicine. Through education and communication, our College can help bridge differences by providing a space where we can talk through and think through our different perspectives while remaining connected to our commitments to patient and community-centered health care, quality in education, research, and clinical care. With our principles of professionalism and our commitment to those we serve as our guide to inform our actions, let's think about what we can do. Think about what we would want to do. Think about what only we can do.

The Chapter structure is intended to facilitate communication and engagement. Find your Governor by looking online. Know that your voice matters. Whether it's working locally or nationally, whether it's a one-time commitment or a long-term commitment, this is our College and its strength and resilience are solely dependent on us.

I look forward to hearing from you, meeting you, and learning from you. In this year ahead, let's commit to taking responsibility for partnership, collaboration, and bridging. It's up to us. I look forward to looking back with you to this point in time in a year and to celebrating the path that we've been able to trace together.

Thank you.