In about eight weeks, several hundred colleagues will be converging on Washington, D.C. to attend Preventive Medicine 2024, our annual conference, which this year is focused on Leadership in Medicine and Public Health.

In about eight weeks, several hundred colleagues will be converging on Washington, D.C. to attend Preventive Medicine 2024, our annual conference, which this year is focused on Leadership in Medicine and Public Health.

Under the expert guidance of Dr. Hunter Jackson Smith and Dr. Yuri Jadotte, the Chair and Vice Chair of the conference respectively, along with the capable support of ACPM staff – Donna Grande, Cara Molinari and Cathy MacMain-Cage, we will have a chance for leaders across health care and public health to collaborate, learn and work to change our health care system through prevention and wellbeing for all.

The role of preventive medicine physicians has been broader than that of physicians caring for individual patients. We have always had this expanded remit to practice population-based health care. Whether looking to meet health care needs of local, regional, national or global patients, this has been our driving motivation. And yes, progress has been too slow for most of us, whether it has been related to preventing tobacco use, advocating for vaccines, pushing for inclusion of diverse opinions and voices or seeking to increase health care screenings that can increase the length and quality of patients’ lives. But even as it is a struggle, it is what we have chosen to do!

Let’s look at measles as a current challenge. The measles vaccine was developed in 1963. Moreover, since 1971, when Dr. Maurice Hilleman created the MMR vaccine, we have essentially had the ability to effectively prevent this disease, and others. Yet, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent global numbers, measles cases increased worldwide by 18% to about nine million, and deaths rose 43% to 136,000, in 2022 compared to 2021. In addition, while 32 countries had large, disruptive outbreaks in 2022, that number had increased to 51 countries in 2023.

Another area of focus as we celebrate Black History Month or African-American History Month, is the inclusion and support of diverse leaders in ACPM and across the spectrum of organizations where preventive medicine physicians work. The 2022 theme of Black History Month was “Black Health and Wellness.” How are we as leaders in the College working across our membership to ensure that underrepresented minorities are afforded the chance to serve on committees, to feel supported in their roles in the organizations where they work, and to help to ensure the wellness of African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Native-Americans, and other underrepresented minorities is a priority? Moreover, there is great need for proportionate representation of physicians in these diverse communities who look like the patients they are serving, because representation truly matters and can be transformative.

So, let us turn to some of the questions we will be seeking to address at Preventive Medicine 2024: 

  • What does it mean to be a leader in medicine and public health?

  • What can we do differently in medicine and public health to achieve better health outcomes?

  • How can we harness the new Artificial Intelligence tools to enhance our efficiency?

  • How can we decrease the time lag between positive research findings and put them into clinical practice?

  • And especially as we will be in D.C. in a presidential election year, how can we best put prevention into practice, where politics shapes policy and likely has a greater impact on anything we can do individually, or even collectively, as preventive medicine physicians?

On days you may feel overwhelmed by the challenges you face, remember the words of former President T. Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Come join us in the arena as we discuss leadership in medicine and public health. If you have not yet done so, please register soon and plan to attend Preventive Medicine 2024, which will be offering high-quality CME programming, inspirational plenary sessions, multiple networking opportunities and the opportunity to celebrate the best in our specialty. See you in D.C.!

Mirza I. Rahman

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