As we are now four weeks past our very successful PM23 meeting in New Orleans, where I was inaugurated as the President of ACPM for the next two years, I would like to share my vision and agenda with the broader organization for 2023 to 2025.
Let me begin by paraphrasing President Kennedy as he spoke at Rice University in 1962 on why we chose to go to the moon. We chose to work in Preventive Medicine:
Not because it is easy, but because it is hard!
Because working in Preventive Medicine serves to organize and harness the best of our energies and skills.
Thus, what follows are the seven initiatives that I laid out in my inaugural address, and I look forward to your help and that of the committed ACPM staff to achieving these initiatives:
First, we must drive America’s Public Health system forward for the greater good, using our collective expertise as Preventive Medicine physicians to address the unmet needs and areas of deficit so we can make this wonderful country even better.
Second, we must strengthen our ACPM finances. We urgently need to think of ways to make ACPM more financially sound and to build a larger reserve fund for times of crisis.
Third, we must grow our membership! To state the obvious, a membership organization cannot survive, much less thrive, without members. We must find more ways to demonstrate our value to the four to five thousand Preventive Medicine physicians who are not yet members of the ACPM. And this starts with each of you going forward from today.
Tell us what you want from ACPM – and by us, I mean me as the President, talk to the Board members, our dedicated CEO, and her staff, and then also tell your fellow Preventive Medicine friends and colleagues about the value you find in being a member of ACPM. Then get them to join with you and participate and mold ACPM into an organization that is entirely yours and one which meets your needs for growth and development going forward.
Fourth is the thorny issue of Preventive Medicine Residency funding. Residents are the future leaders of this country’s Preventive Medicine & Public Health institutions. Yet Preventive Medicine Residency programs are not fully funded like other residency programs, and this we need to address, otherwise over the next decade, with an aging Preventive Medicine & Public Health workforce, we will face tremendous shortages in this already understaffed area.
Fifth is about creating opportunities. ACPM needs to focus on creating concrete opportunities for inclusion, particularly for historically under-represented minorities in medicine, namely African Americans and Hispanic Americans. Let us serve as sponsors, mentors, and allies; let us not just talk, let us do!
Sixth is that we will be creating two Special Interest Groups:
The first Special Interest Group is in Global Health, led by Dr. Michael Jan, which will seek to collaborate with physicians and physician groups in all countries, with a focus on low- and middle-income countries.
The second Special Interest Group is in Pharmaceutical Medicine, to be led by Drs. Lahila Ojeda, and Lia Kostiuk, which will seek to create opportunities in the pharmaceutical industry for Preventive Medicine physicians to take advantage of.
Lucky number seven and the last of my initiatives is on collaboration! We need to develop partnerships with organizations in public health, primary care, and lifestyle medicine, such as the AAFP, ACLM, AMA, ACOG, ACP, AAP, APHA, etc., because they are not our competitors, but collaborators for the good of all. We need to focus on what we can do together in joint projects, seminars, and programs.
So, there is a lot of work to do over the next 24 months. The staff and I will develop a scorecard, or dashboard if you like, to keep track of how we are doing on each of these initiatives and to make it visible to all.
We have an unprecedented opportunity to do wonderful things at a difficult time in America, an America that is horribly fractured along the red and blue state lines, while we are still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thus, there is a great need for our abilities, now more than ever before. Essentially, we have a common purpose, so please join me in working together with ACPM to continue and broaden the work we do as Preventive Medicine physicians in America, even as we expand and deepen our work and reach across the globe.