In the last few months I have been to chapter meetings in Laramie, Wyo.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Seattle; Wash. and Eugene, Ore. Each meeting was a stimulating educational event, but it was really much more. I believe that chapter meetings are one of the very best parts of ACP.
Chapter meetings have some underlying similarities and some distinctive features too. At our chapter meetings there are always presentations on the latest and best in internal medicine, including talks based on recent research and new practice guidelines.
Usually there are discussions about medical ethics, professionalism, and the controversies about both clinical care and medical politics that affect internal medicine. Quite commonly, clinical vignettes presented by ACP Associate Members and their poster contests are highlights of the program. A challenging game of “medical jeopardy” usually brings out the old competitive spirit in most attendees and shows how bright the ACP Associate Members really are. There are always recognitions—new Fellows and Masters, awards for teaching and community services and the Chapter Laureate Award, recognizing service to patients, the profession, and the community.
Each chapter's programs also reflect the diversity of our ACP chapters. Here are just a few examples:
- At the Wyoming meeting in Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming Cowboys, all twelve of the first year medical students in the WAAMI regional medical education program participated actively in the meeting and the chapter invited all of them to the chapter dinner. At the tables we tried to convince every student that internal medicine is their best choice for a satisfying medical career. At the Wyoming ACP chapter meeting this year's talks focused on professionalism and how to be a good doctor, practice good medicine and enjoy helping people over a lifetime.
- At the Tennessee chapter meeting in Chattanooga, with its handsomely refurbished downtown and excellent riverside aquarium, it was stimulating to hear approaches to the uncontrolled problems of major public health importance: diabetes, congestive heart failure, obesity and the prospects of pandemic influenza. There was an excellent session about the interface of attorneys and physicians and discussion about how a Tennessee judge has taken the lead to improve the quality of medical testimony and the process for resolution of malpractice claims. Many of our colleagues expressed concerns about the current and future supply of internists. Many in the Tennessee chapter also told me about their excellent annual reading retreat and the Tennessee tradition of story telling.
- In Seattle, the meeting was at a beautiful conference center on the Seattle waterfront. The Washington chapter meeting started with a well-attended pre-course for hospitalists, followed by two more days of talks and games with lots of audience participation. This meeting is a model for involvement of members at all stages in their careers. Presentations by senior faculty from the University of Washington bringing the latest and best of medical advances and clinical research and clinicians from across the state described best medical practices from their clinics and communities. Associates from the state's four training programs and UW medical students were all very involved in an enthusiastic meeting.
- The Oregon meeting, this year in Eugene, home of the University of Oregon Ducks, had excellent speakers across the spectrum of the medical specialties. Oregon and its chapter are distinguished by their recognition of the important role of economics and economic planning for deliver of good health care. The Associates contest and its attendance was the best that I have ever seen. This year's program included the topics of practicing with inadequate resources and health care reform, topics dear to the heart of many Oregonians.
One of the best parts of an ACP meeting for me is always the coffee break. Like most people from Seattle, I enjoy coffee, but this is also the time to talk with colleagues-young and old-about their lives and memorable moments in medicine. With just a little reflection, this usually leads to a story about a well-remembered professor or a patient. For all of us, these are moments of fellowship and collegiality, and really why we refer to ACP as the College.
Chapter meetings are the time and place for the ACP officers and members of the Board of Regents serving as the College Representative to connect with Members, Fellows, Masters, Associates and Student Members. The College Representative goes to the meeting with a specific set of duties. The representative gives a brief talk about the current activities of ACP, mentioning membership, educational offerings, advocacy, the Foundation and a few other topics. The representative also participates in the town meeting, answers questions and connects members to the many resources of the College.
As I have attended chapter meetings, I have thought about all the efforts the Governor, the program committee and the staff put into planning and conducting the meeting. I have thought about how privileged I am to be there and wished that others had the time, resources or opportunity to be there too. It is valuable just to listen to a really good presentation and consider how much the presenter has learned from preparing the talk for me and the rest of the audience.
Chapter meetings maintain the professionalism and spirit of the national organization. If you have not attended your chapter meeting lately, I hope you will go to the next one. They are really one of the best parts of belonging to ACP.