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ACP Leaders On The Road:
Robert B. Gibbons, MD, MACP

Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand

I was delighted to have the opportunity to represent the ACP at the Annual Meeting of the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand, which was held at Pattaya, Thailand (approximately 2 ½ hours by car from Bangkok). Pattaya is a resort city in a beautiful area facing the Gulf of Thailand. The first day of the meeting was Saturday, April 25th, although the opening ceremonies were held on Sunday, April 26th. On Saturday, a full day of medical topics were presented for those residents preparing for the certifying examination in Internal Medicine. Consequently, there was a substantial number of residents from the eighteen medical schools and other programs who remained for the entire meeting, which concluded on Wednesday the 29th.

During the opening ceremonies on Sunday, Dr. Ian Gilmore, President of the Royal College of Physicians of England (who is also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians) and I were introduced by Dr. Somwung Darnchaivijitr, the President of the Royal College. Dr. Gilmore was the keynote speaker on the topic of “Setting Higher Medical Standards for Physicians”. Non-Thai speakers included Dr. Hertzel C. Gerstein from MacMaster University in Canada, and Dr. Roger Williams from London. All of the other speakers on the program were Thai, and presented in the Thai language with no translation. Dr. Darnchaivijitr estimated that there were nearly three thousand attendees representing virtually all areas of Thailand. An induction ceremony for the new Fellows of the Royal College was also conducted on Sunday afternoon in Regalia. Much of the program, including the induction ceremony, was organized similarly to the ACP, with updates, workshops, Meet the Professor sessions, etc. There was also an exhibit floor with a large number of industry booths. In addition, acknowledgments of various pharmaceutical companies were made in the program for speakers. Although my Thai is limited to “Hello” and “Thank you”, I was extremely impressed with the organization, enthusiasm, and degree of industry support. Dr. Darnchaivijitr’s staff was very efficient in conducting the meeting. I was quite impressed with the number of residents and young practicing physicians from throughout Thailand who attended the meeting.

An Open House was held on the evening prior to the opening ceremony, which allowed the participants to meet one another. On Sunday evening, a dinner was held for the speakers and visiting dignitaries, which was hosted by Dr. Darnchaivijitr and the President Elect of the Royal College, Dr. Kammant Phanthumchinda. Part of the social evening included a competition of karaoke between the Thai, British, and American physicians and families. It was great fun for everyone involved. Interestingly, on Saturday, the Royal College was a partner in hosting a water aerobics event in the Gulf of Thailand. The goal was to set a world record for the number of people participating in water aerobics at one time. A representative of the Guinness Book of World Records from London was in attendance, and confirmed that a new record had been set (2000!). This was all part of the theme of the meeting, which included individual healthy living. The event was well publicized throughout Thailand, and the King was represented by his daughter, Professor Doctor Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol.

Dr. Gibbons with the Princess of Thailand

Back row, far left: Dr. and Mrs. Ian Gilmore. Far right: Dr. and Mrs. Robert B. Gibbons. Front row, center: Professor Doctor Her Royal Highness Princess Chulabhorn Mahidol. Others include members of the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand.

Although there are few American physicians in Thailand, the meeting was also attended by Dr. Henry Wilde, a long-standing Fellow of the ACP, who is a Professor at a University in Bangkok, working in virology. He has been in Thailand more than 15 years, and is well known in the academic community. Another Fellow, (my son) Colonel Robert V. Gibbons, who is Chief of the Virology section at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok, was also able to meet with participants at the meeting. The staff and attending Thai physicians were most hospitable to me and the other visiting dignitaries, and expressed an interest in organizing a future meeting or course in conjunction with the ACP. This is my third visit to Thailand, and I can confirm that there is a wonderful array of things to do and see for visitors. In addition, the Thais are some of the friendliest people with whom I have had the opportunity to be associated in my travels throughout the world. The quality of patient care and research is impressive, and the relationship of the ACP and the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand is strong.

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