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ACP Leaders On The Road:
Virginia Hood, MBBS, MPH, FACP

In April 2008, Joel Levine, MD, MACP; Eve Swiacki, Director, ACP International Activities; and I attended the 36th Congress of the Polish Society of Internal Medicine in Warsaw, Poland as representatives of the College. We had the opportunity to meet with leaders of the PSIM at one official session and on several informal occasions. We discussed topics of mutual interest including: publications, educational materials, membership of both organizations, and advocacy efforts to influence our respective governments to promote the best possible patient care and optimize physician capacity to provide it.

The Congress was attended by more than 3,000 physicians from all over Poland. Dr. Levine spoke during the scientific session on “Current Management of Colorectal Polyps” with the aid of simultaneous translation. A satellite Ethics Symposium, “Ethical Dilemmas in Medical Practice: Can a Physician Refuse to Help a Patient” that preceded the congress was organized in response to a physician work stoppage and was attended by about 400 people including physicians, ethicists, priests, politicians and patient advocates. After participating in a press conference, I presented “Can a Physician Refuse to Help a Patient: The American Perspective”. This was followed by 16 presentations on a number of aspects of this topic, which I was privileged to hear thanks to the excellent and continuous translation by Dr Kornel Zdanowski. The discussion touched familiar themes and reinforced how much we have in common with physicians in many countries.

Executive Committee of the PSIM with Dr. Levine, Dr. Hood, and Eve Swiacki

Executive Committee of the PSIM with Dr. Levine, Dr. Hood, and Eve Swiacki

We were all impressed by the commitment Polish physicians have to improving their knowledge, skills and professionalism so as to promote excellence in patient care despite the limited resources available to them. Most of all we were very thankful for the gracious hospitality and generosity of the PSIM and in particular Jan Sznajd, MD, who hosted us so expertly and warmly; Prof. Jacek Musial, MD, PhD, FACP, incoming President of the PSIM; Prof. Andrzej Szczeklik, MD, PhD, FACP, Past President of the PSIM and Chair of the Organizing Committee for the Ethics Symposium; and, Piotr Gajewski, MD, PhD, FACP whose organization arranged the Congress and publishes several Polish medical journals including the Polish Archives of Internal Medicine, which now has an English edition.

Eve Swiacki signs up a new member at the ACP membership booth

We were all also fortunate to spend a little time, learning about the long, complex, sometimes tragic history, but always enduring spirit of the Polish people as well as admiring examples of over seven centuries of their culture. It was an experience none of us will forget, and I believe will strengthen the ties between our two organizations.

Eve Swiacki, Director, ACP International Activities, signs up a new member at the ACP membership booth

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