American College of Physicians: Internal Medicine — Doctors for Adults ®

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Annual Session: a time to renew clinical skills and rich traditions

President's column

From the June 2000 ACP-ASIM Observer, copyright 2000 by the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine.

Educated, energized, and excited, I write this month's message as I return from Annual Session in Philadelphia. We have come to expect Annual Session to be the premier event for internal medicine, and this year's meeting was no exception.

Annual Session is memorable on so many levels. The meeting gives us an opportunity to learn and to renew medical friendships that span years, states and even continents. Perhaps just as important, it is also a time for the College to renew its leadership and its policy.

This year's meeting featured more than 250 educational sessions by a world-renowned faculty. The Scientific Program Subcommittee and College staff amazed everyone by bringing together nearly 6,000 attendees and scores of distinguished faculty for this great event. Here are some of my favorite moments from this year's meeting.

A time for learning

As a practicing internist, I look forward to Annual Session as a chance to learn more about the issues I face in day-to-day patient care. This year, I particularly enjoyed a Meet the Professor session on vitamin B12 deficiency. I learned not only from the faculty, but from an expert on the topic who happened to be seated next to me. My patients will benefit greatly from what I learned from both experts.

In addition to lectures, Annual Session gives internists many chances to brush up on their clinical skills at the Learning Center. The hands-on activities and clinical demonstrations are some of the best available to practitioners. They addressed topics such as casting and splinting, sports medicine, arthrocentesis and physical examination skills.

With so much to choose from, one of the biggest dilemmas is deciding which of the superb courses to attend. It seems that there is never enough time to attend as many programs as curiosity demands.

In part, that's because Annual Session provides the chance to make new friends and catch up with old ones. I relished the opportunity to visit with ACP—ASIM colleagues, some from my home state of Georgia and others from distant places like Alaska and Chile. The camaraderie, fellowship and friendship that the College engenders is a priceless benefit of membership and enriches us all. Attending Annual Session made me proud to be part of an organization that brings together such an insightful, entertaining, interesting and caring group of internists.

College traditions

Annual Session also gives us a chance to renew the College's rich traditions. Nowhere was this more evident than at Convocation Ceremony, which celebrates the achievements of our members, Fellows, and Masters. The cocktail/dinner reception following the ceremony was a successful new event for Annual Session. Everyone enjoyed celebrating and honoring the new Fellows at this elegant event.

Every year I learn something new about the College's Convocation Ceremony. I recently discovered, for instance, that only holders of a doctoral degree may have velvet on their gowns. I also learned that the deep green on medical doctors' hoods symbolizes herbs, humanity's original pharmacopoeia.

I also learned some interesting facts about the latest group of new Fellows, more than 750 of whom marched in this year's Convocation Ceremony. I was impressed by the diversity of this group, who ranged in age from 32 to 90 and included 392 women, or roughly 18%. One-quarter of this year's new Fellows (550) were international medical graduates, representing medical schools from nearly 70 countries.

During his speech at Convocation Ceremony, Immediate Past President Whitney W. Addington, MACP, warned the new Fellows and others in the audience against following the old adage, "Physician, heal thyself." He reminded us that internists must guard their own health and should seek medical care from other Fellows of the College.

Reaffirming policy

In the realm of policy, the College used Annual Session to officially kick off its first-ever clinical theme: antibiotic resistance. In recognition of the threat of emerging antibiotic resistance, the College has spotlighted unnecessary prescribing by physicians as well as the need for patient and public education. We hope the public education initiative will change patient requests from, "Doctor, I need an antibiotic" to "Doctor, is this something we can manage without antibiotics?"

At a press conference on access to care, Dr. Addington championed the ACP—ASIM goal of access to affordable health care and health insurance for all Americans. This is an initiative the College will continue to press in the year ahead, especially in the upcoming national elections.

At the College's annual Business Meeting later in the session, I had the pleasure of beginning my duties as President of the College. I am joined by Rowen K. Zetterman, FACP, who took over as Chair of the Board of Regents, and Donna E. Sweet, FACP, who assumed the Chair of the Board of Governors. (She is the first woman to hold that post.)

The year appears to already be off to a good start. At the Associates and Medical Students reception, which took place shortly after the Business Meeting, I was moved by the number of attendees and their level of interest. Last year, only a handful of associates and medical students attended. This year, however, the room was packed and the enthusiasm of the group was palpable. These Associates and medical students are the future of internal medicine. Witnessing their exuberance and insight, I felt assured that the future of internal medicine is in good hands.

I am filled with thanks and appreciation (and am somewhat overwhelmed) with the honor, privilege and responsibility to represent our specialty in the coming year. We will continue to work to address the problems and issues facing internal medicine. With your help, I know the College can do great work for our members, our patients and the public.

—Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, FACP

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