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CMSS: Do You Know You Belong?
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It may have escaped your notice that as a member of the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) you are also a member of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS). Okay, what is CMSS?

The Council began in 1965 with three societies and rapidly expanded to include all the societies whose primary board had membership in the American Board of Medical Specialties. Since March of 2005, membership has been expanded to include subspecialty societies and organizations that have similar objectives. The CMSS membership represents all the major specialty societies, and these groups represent about 630,000 physicians.There are so many organizations in medicine that it is hard to know which is which. For example, many physicians feel that the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) and the American Board of Preventive Medicine (ABPM) are one and the same. That is just not so. They are two entirely different organizations with different staff and different directors. It is often confusing because some of the leaders of our specialty societies serve as members of the leadership of both the ACPM and ABPM.

CMSS is not a legislatively active organization. CMSS feels that the individual specialty and subspecialty societies and the American Medical Association are fully involved in this arena, and that additional efforts would be duplicative and potentially confusing.

The CMSS is one of the five major parent or nominating bodies of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME), the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), the National Board of Medical Examiners (NBME), the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), as well as an associate member of the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). The CMSS also is a member of the National Quality Forum (NQF) as are many of members of CMSS individually. Membership in the CMSS therefore permits input into their activities and access to membership on the governing bodies of these organizations. Recent actions by several of the above organizations have demonstrated the importance of this input.

CMSS' linkage with the ABMS is particularly acute given the movement toward Maintenance of Certification (MOC). The Joint Planning Committee, composed equally of CMSS and ABMS members, has been effective in facilitating specialty society/specialty board relations. We have recently become active in the physician performance perspective, most specifically related to MOC Part IV.

Our component groups comprise an important aspect of CMSS activities. The Organization of Program Directors Associations (OPDA) provides an opportunity for program directors to meet with their colleagues from other specialties and create a positive influence in graduate medical education. OPDA has a permanent seat on the Residency Review Committee Council of the ACGME, as well as a position as an Observer. The NRMP recently approved a board position for OPDA. The CME Directors component group has been extremely instrumental in influencing the evolution of CME and decisions of the ACCME. The Membership Directors component group has proven extremely beneficial in sharing experiences and strategies.

A continuing focus on CME has led quite naturally to the substantial leadership role that the CMSS has provided in leading the reform and repositioning of continuing medical education through the Conjoint Committee on CME, a committee comprised of members from 15 stakeholder organizations.

We also are increasingly involved in the discussions around Pay for Performance and the scope of practice of non-physician providers. Workforce issues are actively being investigated in cooperation with the American of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), first looking at the actual activities of today's practicing physicians, beginning with the primary care specialists. The issue of professionalism is one that our leadership is addressing as a part of the CMSS Strategic Plan, with a particular focus on medicine's responsibility to society.

Our bi-annual meetings of the Council are a two-day active interchange: component groups, and specially convened meetings on the first day; and a Council meeting, which is increasingly an issue-orientated discussion, on the second day.

While the bi-annual meetings are important, another asset of the CMSS is its size and flexibility. Our CMSS representatives to the various organizations are constantly feeding back information to the board of the CMSS that meets monthly by phone. In turn, critical information is relayed to our members who then have the opportunity to express their opinion on the matters under consideration by these organizations.

What about ACPM? Clearly, the College is well represented. ACPM Member Rachel Rubin, MD, MPH, and Executive Director Michael Barry actively represent the College on the Council and attend most Council meetings. Additional ACPM staff members are involved in the component groups, including theCMEdirectors, membership directors, and program directors groups.

Please visit www.cmss.org to learn more about the Council, and feel free to share your ideas for how to strengthen ACPM's role in the Council or the Council's role in organized medicine with Dr. Rubin (rrubin@uic.edu) or Mr. Barry (mbarry@acpm.org).

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