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Alabama Governor's Newsletter May 2021

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William A Curry, MD, MACP, ACP Governor

William A Curry, MD, MACP, ACP Governor

 


WE’RE MEETING – JOIN US!

This is the time of year your governor typically reminds you of our Chapter's annual meeting. If you are like me, you look forward to the meeting all year, and that reminder leads you to recall the great meetings over the years. This year, it is all that plus a thrilling announcement: WE’RE MEETING IN PERSON! Join us June 11-13 for the Alabama – Mississippi Joint Chapter meeting at the MSU Riley Center, in Meridian MS.

The leaders of our two Chapters are confident we can do this safely and effectively. Drive just a few miles across the state line and enjoy superb educational sessions, terrific ACP fellowship, excellent facilities, and great food and entertainment. I hope to see you there! Register today.

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A YEAR OF COVID

Actually, it's been a year and a half and seems a lot longer, doesn't it? At every level it's demanded hard work, perseverance, imagination, and – above all – resilience. We've heard those words as slogans, and even seen them as posters (There's a “Perseverance” photo of a bison in a snowstorm in my office). The slogans have become much more meaningful, entirely real. Not at all easy, but familiar. I've bumped up against burnout more than once, and I suspect many of you have too. The national data tell us so, our families and colleagues tell us so, and in our souls we know it. I am grateful for being a member of great teams. I am much more familiar with the essential work of every member of those teams, and I appreciate them as never before.

I had the privilege of being on teams that established large volume centralized, and then focused high-risk neighborhood and rural COVID-19 testing. Molecular biologists and laboratory leaders were heroes by inventing and scaling up superb tests for an organism that three months earlier had no name. Our facilities management members were no less heroic in planning and establishing safe, efficient, patient-friendly testing sites – moving them all over town and across the landscape. Then we laid vaccination sites atop that network. Creative administrators made it work, and then of course there were nurses, APPs, techs, swabbers, mixers, IT experts, police, EMTs, church partners, and community leaders. Lest you say that's fine for a big health system and metro area like mine, let me point out that I saw the same pattern in smaller systems, over and over, across every kind of Alabama community. It was medicine at its best, Alabama at its best, America at its best. We kept improving it, and we had little or no time to celebrate it because people still were getting sick and dying. Even though we're still busy and it's not over, it's worth celebrating.

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A QUICK INVENTORY

Personal

Family, friend, and personal needs haven't quit just because of COVID-19. In fact, in almost every way they've intensified – either from people getting infected (including some of you), isolation, loss of connection, financial stress, or generalized uncertainty. When the outbreaks were booming, we may have deferred attention to some or all of these. Now that it's calmer, we see them more clearly. We may notice the effects of neglect in ourselves or in relationships. I've found that I need a break now and then (imagine that!). I need to be able to talk about it all with somebody. I need all the actions we recommend to patients: rest, diet, exercise, do something for fun. Ultimately it comes down to giving time and energy to the relationships that matter: family, friends, faith.

Practice

Nobody's medical practice today looks like it did in December of 2019. Whether you were directly involved in COVID care or not, the COVID precautions, the virtual visits, and clinical priorities have changed dramatically the way you organize your clinics and hospitals. Change – even good change – is stressful. We and our staffs are living through that. Finances for some practices and hospitals have created more stress, including pay cuts. ACP has provided comprehensive, updated information about COVID-19 clinical care, testing, vaccines, public health, and practice management at along with all the usual great resources and education offerings, including MKSAP 18. Alabama ACP developed a series of local videos with experts and colleagues around COVID-19 topics, along with links to information important for internists, on our Facebook page, and on Twitter.

Physician Wellness

This of course is another way of describing all of the above. Specifically, our website will link you to our own and national ACP Wellness material and events. The Wellness Committee of the Alabama Chapter co-sponsored a Zoom Wellness event with our Mississippi friends which quickly spread to include many other states all around the country. You and I – and ACP – have known that even before the pandemic the practice of internal medicine has grown more and more demanding: higher patient volumes, less time per patient, more documentation, and less certain reimbursement. ACP has advocated successfully for the simpler documentation requirements that CMS has implemented, for increased reimbursement from CMS, and for simpler MOC with ABIM. More about these another time, but they are one more example of what we must continue to do for internists to protect your practice and the care your patients can receive.

Vaccines: Cause for Celebration and Listening

From Dr. Jenner to Operation Warp Speed, let's proclaim that vaccines are powerful life-saving gifts for everybody! The speed, effectiveness, and safety of COVID-19 vaccines is more than remarkable – it is astounding. None of our familiar, routine vaccines can compare. At the same time, we know plenty of people – in our own practices, communities, and even families – who have profound reservations or objections to COVID-19 vaccines. I am convinced that the best approach to them is calm and respectful. I've learned to say something like this: “I respect your choice, even though I see it differently. I'm happy to discuss it if you like. In the meantime, you've made a choice about your level of safety. I hope you'll keep thinking in terms of how to manage your level of protection and safety. Can I help you with any of that?”

Finding Ways to Serve

Once when I was feeling low, I asked a friend what to do. His response was wise and unforgettable: “Find a way to be of service to somebody.” That may sound redundant for those of us in a service profession. We are surrounded by opportunities to serve. Maybe that's just the point. Because they surround us, we don't recognize them for what they are. I have found it useful to find a way to serve completely outside of medicine, even something small and simple. Then I can see more clearly what those opportunities all around me really are.

And you can serve through ACP! Watch for an invitation soon for open positions on our Council and committees. You can let me know any time of your interest through our website.

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IN OTHER NEWS

We had many outstanding submissions for our abstract competition from all across our state and wish we could accept them all. However, because of space limitations and COVID-restrictions, we can only accept a designated number. To find out what abstracts were accepted, as well as those invited to present orally, visit the News & Meetings section on our chapter website. Members, don't miss the viewing sessions at our upcoming AL/MS chapters meeting in Meridian, MS, June 11-13. Support our medical students, residents, fellows and early career physicians by attending.

Did you know...one of our chapter members, Dr. Bob Centor, hosts a nationally recognized podcast? Each episode of the Annals on Call podcast features Dr Centor discussing and debating a clinically influential article published in Annals of Internal Medicine with a guest expert. Recent reviews suggest Dr. Centor “shows firsthand and battleground knowledge of what is happening in internal medicine.” You can find Annals on Call on Apple Podcasts.

Dr. Centor also is this year's recipient of the ACP Jane F. Desforges Distinguished Teacher Award, for demonstrating “the ennobling qualities of a great teacher as judged by the acclaim and accomplishments of former students who have been inspired and have achieved positions of leadership in the field of medical education, primarily as teachers.”

As though that weren't enough…Dr. Centor also was the UAB Distinguished Faculty Lecturer in recognition of his legacy in education and research at UAB and his service to the profession of medicine.

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New Fellows since July 2020:

Andrew D Hodges, MD FACP

Christopher O Ike, MD FACP

Sarah E Joiner, MD FACP

Reginald N Mason, MD FACP

George C Nwadiaro, MD FACP

Kenny Murray, MD FACP

Siva Parcha, MD FACP

Thank you for your commitment to your patients, to medicine, and to ACP. I hope to see you in Meridian!

Bill

William A. Curry MD, MACP

Governor, Alabama Chapter of ACP

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