Alaska Chapter Description and History
by Norman J. Wilder, MD, MBA, MACP
Alaska Chapter ACP Governor, 1993-97
The Alaska Chapter reflects in many ways the larger national organization. Our membership is composed of a mix of specialist and sub-specialist, spread throughout the state. Though Alaska has no medical school or internal medicine teaching program, per se, many opportunities exist for academic pursuits such as medical student and resident preceptorships, community-based teaching, and other more structured programs such as resident rotations at the Alaska Native Medical Center, the first-year medical students in the WWAMI program, the Family Practice Residency, and a formal, internal medicine residency rotation. Our members debate many of the same issues being addressed on a national level.
The Alaska Chapter is a relatively young organization. Always an “outpost of Washington,” Alaska became the 49th state only in 1959. Similarly, with only a handful of internists until the late 1960’s, our representation was through the Washington Region. In the mid-70’s, Rodman Wilson, FACP held a brief meeting to assess the interest of Alaskan internists in having a separate region. The response was very positive and he was appointed as the first Governor of the Alaska Region serving from 1977-81. During the term (1981-85) of our second Governor, Winthrop Fish, FACP, the issue of forming an actual Chapter was raised, but tabled because of our small membership and lack of perceived benefit compared to the increase in requirements. Tom Wood, FACP, our third governor (1985-89) pursued the issue, but it wasn’t until the term (1989-93) of our fourth Governor, Keith Brownsberger, FACP, that we finally became a chapter on December 7, 1990.
Though our Alaska Chapter Annual Scientific Meetings are well-attended and the highlight of the Chapter year, they have been in existence for less than 20 years. Tom Wood, FACP, with his own personal resources at stake, started the first meeting, held in Sitka, Alaska, June 27-29, 1986. A total of 21 registrants was sufficient to pay the expenses and an annual meeting became part of the life of the Alaska Region/Chapter! The 1987 attendance was 37 and in 1988 was 46. The word was out that our meetings were special and worth attending. In 1995 we had a record 84 registrants and always draw 60-80 with several out-of-state attendees. In the last ten years the meeting has continued at 30-50% Chapter participation. Our meetings draw national attention and we are able to bring together a world-recognized faculty of top leaders and medical educators. Nobel Laureate in Medicine, Roger Guillemin, MD, Ph.D., was a featured speaker at our 1987 meeting. The second Nobel Laureate to participate in a Chapter Annual Meeting was David Baltimore, PhD, President of the California Institute of Technology who spoke at our 1999, “Emerging Infectious Diseases” meeting. Richard Neubauer, FACP, has been the Program Director from 1991 to 2008; the last eighteen years, bringing uniformity and ongoing high quality to the meetings.
The fifth Governor (1993-97), Norman Wilder, FACP saw many changes. The Chapter membership grew from 42 members and 21 Fellows to 74 members and 29 Fellows during his term. In 1995, the Chapter’s third Laureate Award was given to Tom Wood, FACP, for establishing annual meetings and laying the ground work for becoming a chapter. He joins previous winners, Rod Wilson, MACP, for his work as the first Governor, and Brian McMahon, FACP, for his work in the chapter and his world-recognized work on hepatitis. The Alaska Chapter received an Evergreen Award in 1995 for a Chapter Meeting Promotion Campaign and in 1997 received the Chapter Management Award. Quarterly Chapter Newsletters, an emerging committee structure, occasional Journal Club meetings, and a decade of solid chapter meetings greeted our sixth Governor.
The sixth Governor (1997-01), Steven Tucker, FACP, closed out his four years with some notable achievements. Chapter membership increased 16% and Fellows increased 10% with a doubling of the number of women Fellows. Rodman Wilson became the first Alaskan to achieve Mastership. Norman Wilder, FACP, was honored as the Chapter’s fourth Laureate Award winner. The Alaska Chapter received Evergreen Awards for our Donation Card Program (scholarship fund) and for a variety of Meeting Enhancement Projects (Flattop Hike, B&B program, and Annual dinner). Our meetings continued to attract internationally recognized speakers and we’ve had either the President of the ACP or the Chair of the Board of Regents of the ACP at every meeting. Our meeting ranks second in the College for membership support and attendance. During Steve’s term we’ve had our first elected Council, new Bylaws, a new Volunteer-of-the-Year Award, and ever increasing Chapter reserves.
The seventh Governor (2001-05), Richard Neubauer, FACP, started his first six months with two additional Chapter Laureate Award winners, Keith Brownsberger, FACP, and Steven Tucker, FACP. He expanded Council membership, added many new programs, and solidified the Chapter CME Project that he helped originate. The coordinated grand rounds program between three Anchorage hospitals has won an Evergreen Award. Drs. Janis and McMahon received Laureate awards. Norm Wilder became the Chapter’s second Master in 2002. Brian McMahon, FACP was honored in 2003 as the first recipient of the Alvan R. Feinstein Memorial Award for his research on hepatitis. Drs Patrick Nolan and Rod Wilson have received volunteerism awards. Rod Wilson, our Chapter’s first Governor and first Master died in December of 2003 and we established a new chapter award in his name for Alaska WWAMI student participation in ACP Leadership Day. Additionally, we recognize Alaska WWAMI students with travel scholarships to the Annual ACP meeting and we recognize a student each year with an Alaska WWAMI Student of the Year Award. The annual dinner at Campobello’s for first-year WWAMI students is very successful. We’ve donated to the ACP Foundation and have a participation in the key-contact program of over 95%, the highest by far of any chapter. The Alaska Chapter has won several additional Evergreen Awards and Chapter Management awards during the term of Rich Neubauer. Brian McMahon became our Chapter’s third Master and received a second Laureate Award. And, Richard Neubauer transitioned to become our chapter’s first ever Regent of the College!
Jay Butler, FACP began his term as our 8th Alaska Chapter Governor at the Annual Meeting in San Francisco in 2005. Jay was Director of the Arctic Investigations Section of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Jay has since moved to Director of the Division of Public Health of the State of Alaska. He has helped to bridge the gap between practicing physicians and the public health sector both locally and in the national organization. He saw a dramatic increase in membership.
Keith Brownsberger and Tom Wood became our 4th and 5th Masters giving our chapter the highest percentage of Masters in the College. Rich Neubauer, FACP continued to oversee the annual chapter meeting and scientific session. He received the chapter laureate award in 2008 in recognition of his many activities both locally and nationally in the college. We attract the best speakers to our chapter meeting and the meeting is rated outstanding by both the locals and out-of-state attendees. Rich has transitioned the chapter-run Anchorage grand rounds to Julie McCormick, FACP and turned over responsibility for the Annual Chapter meeting to her also. Molly Southworth, FACP started an Internal Medicine Interest Group for students and a number of scientific meetings and gatherings to discuss career opportunities and we continue to have an annual dinner meeting for first-year medical students. We are now into our 6th year of providing generous support for students to attend the Internal Medicine annual meeting. The entire class attended the 2007 meeting which is totally unprecedented and unmatched by any other chapter! We actively support Leadership Day in Washington, DC, not just with chapter leaders, but also members and students. These types of activities make us one of the most active chapters in the ACP, a credit not to individual governors, but to the shared vision of 193 Alaskan Internists who proudly work to make our chapter one of the greatest. Check out our web site!
Our Executive Director is Julie Lake and our curent Governor is Molly Southworth. Our immediate past Governor is Bob Bundtzen.