Despite caring for patients with life-altering diagnoses for many years, personally facing such a diagnosis is different. One is forced to bluntly confront mortality, recognizing that our remaining time is limited, and none of us know how much time we have left. Since my diagnosis, I have become more aware, more appreciative, and more protective of my time and the relationships in my life, including my relationships with ACP colleagues and my commitment to ACP.
When ACP President Ryan D. Mire, MD, MACP, asked me to author this guest column, as the first ACP Treasurer (to my knowledge) to do so, my thoughts turned to “What is the return on investment for ACP membership?” To explore this question, I queried colleagues on the Board of Regents and received a multitude of responses, many of them mirroring my own sentiments. For the sake of simplicity, and knowing full well that many things will be omitted, I will focus only on three buckets: medical education, advocacy and evidence-based policy, and colleagues.
Superb medical education offerings drew me to ACP years ago, and their tremendous value continues today. I recall my first national ACP meeting in Philadelphia. Engaging, expert clinician educators covered all aspects of internal medicine, and the experience as a newly minted physician was awe-inspiring. As a colleague shared with me, there is no better clinical medical conference for internal medicine physicians than the national Internal Medicine Meeting, next scheduled to take place in San Diego in April 2023. It is the premier medical education event of the year and represents the best value one can find. It is a top priority, a definite “do not miss” event. Another gem, the leading internal medicine journal in the world, Annals of Internal Medicine, is published by ACP and freely available to members. Led by Editor-in-Chief Christine Laine, MD, FACP, its impact is unmatched, providing practice-changing content and innovative series such as the Annals on Call podcast, ACP/Annals Virtual Forums, the Annals Fresh Look blog created by early-career physicians, ACP Journal Club, and much more. Members may also freely access ACP JournalWise and DynaMed (yes, DynaMed!). ACP also recently debuted Annals of Internal Medicine: Clinical Cases, a new journal co-published with the American Heart Association, which provides an avenue for those seeking to publish case reports and case series.
Another premier medical education tool is, of course, MKSAP. In existence since 1967 and developed by internal medicine physicians for internal medicine physicians, it is, hands down, the best adult learning platform available. For those of you who last used MKSAP during residency, today's MKSAP 19 contains many innovative features, including the ability to develop personalized learning plans. Whether one is preparing for certification, Maintenance of Certification, or staying abreast of new developments, MKSAP is an extraordinary tool that internal medicine physicians consider a “must.” Do explore the ACP website for more offerings, including the new Coding for Clinicians series, ACP clinical guidelines, the Online Learning Center, the Pain Management Learning Hub, point-of-care ultrasound courses, and more.
My second bucket of focus is ACP's advocacy and evidence-based policy. ACP policies, developed by a rigorous evidence-based process, are housed in the ACP policy compendium. Current position papers and policy statements address a wide variety of topics, including the health and well-being of Indigenous communities, environmental health, and strengthening food and nutrition security to promote public health in the U.S. When ACP advocates or speaks out on behalf of a specific issue, as Shari Erickson, MPH, Senior Vice President, Governmental Affairs and Public Policy, recently did in an eloquent article on gun violence in the November/December 2022 ACP Internist, that position is supported by established policy—no exceptions. As one colleague shared, “ACP is the only organization that has my back at all levels: advocating for my patients and my needs as an internal medicine physician with many advocacy wins, such as coding, billing, telehealth … the list goes on.” ACP advocacy has even inspired a medical student to pursue a career in internal medicine! A student also shared, “I joined because I see the role of the modern physician as something that extends beyond the hospital doors… students are passionate, enthusiastic, and innovative thinkers. I know they are the upcoming changemakers and leaders in medicine.”
The third bucket is professional colleagues and collegiality. I love my ACP colleagues! We are part of a large, impactful, professional community as ACP members. A colleague shared, “The value of ACP membership is about connections made and those renewed and maintained through participation in the College. … I always enjoyed reconnecting with old friends, colleagues, and program directors when attending local and annual meetings.” We take care of each other, promoting personal and professional fulfillment. We bond in our chapters and across our states, recognize achievements, and work together on pressing issues. We celebrate excellence and put patients first. Unifying all of us is our commitment to ACP's mission, vision, goals, and core values.
From offering superb educational opportunities, serving as the go-to internal medicine voice on leading issues, and serving as the professional home for internal medicine physicians, ACP has been my professional home for decades. Having gone through a diagnosis of breast cancer, followed by surgery, and followed by chemotherapy, I am now in a new place and am full of immense gratitude for the people and relationships in my life. The “return on investment” is clear for me. ACP puts patients first, and so do my ACP colleagues. That I can sign on to.