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William W. Parmley, MD, MACC, Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 415 Judah St., San Francisco, California 94122, USA.
This is my last Editor’s Page as I complete my 10 years as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. I want to pay tribute to my colleagues, you the readers, who are Fellows of the American College of Cardiology. It has been my privilege over my career to be associated closely with many of you. You have tutored me and inspired me. And so in this last Editor’s Page, I wish to briefly discuss 10 attributes that I have observed, which I believe represent the best qualities of an FACC:
1. Practice the Art and Science of Medicine.The Art of Medicine includes compassion, interest in, respect for, and communication with patients. It includes listening more than talking. It is the appropriate use of “laying on of the hands,” a human touch that reassures patients and affirms our common humanity. It involves making time available to answer questions in an impossibly busy day, while never appearing to be rushed. It means that we are always the patient’s advocate, through daunting interactions with health care plans and administrators. The Science of Medicine includes an understanding of the pathophysiology of disease, evidence-based medicine, and practice guidelines, but it always allows for individualization of care. It implies knowledge of the utility of different tests and the application of a variety of therapies that will optimize the care of individual patients. The above should always include a consideration of cost-effectiveness.
2. Learn and Teach.We should always be learning, because our information base in medicine is constantly changing. The College provides wonderful help in this regard through its many high-quality educational programs. We are also responsible for teaching our colleagues. These include medical students, housestaff, fellows, nurses, and peers. Every physician is both a learner and a teacher. This is a proud tradition of our beloved profession which must never be neglected.
3. Understand the Importance of Medical Research.Those in academia make ongoing research an important part of their career. At the same time every practitioner understands the importance of research in furthering our knowledge and, ultimately, benefitting our patients. We need to be proactive in our support of research and to participate where possible.
4. Collegiality and Professionalism.In an era of intense competition, collegiality among physicians may suffer. I admire those individuals who maintain collegiality and professionalism regardless of the circumstances. We belong to the greatest profession on earth. Let’s not degrade it from within.
5. Ethical Behavior.Our ideals proclaim ethical principles that are a model for all professions. I greatly admire those individuals whose public and private lives conform to high ethical standards. I am pained and embarrassed for our profession when a physician is convicted of unethical practices such as Medicare fraud. Our profession should be an honorable one—honesty and integrity being its twin foundations.
6. Spirituality.I admire those physicians who have a real spiritual sense of something greater than all of us. The majority of people in the U.S. profess religious beliefs. Inner spiritual strength is a great asset to both patient and physician, and it is a quality to be desired.
7. Be Active in the Community.Nothing better reflects our concern for communities than volunteering to help others. The opportunities are endless—PTA, scouts, athletic leagues, the arts, service organizations, churches and synagogues, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and the like. I greatly admire those physicians who donate time and effort to making their communities a better place.
8. Family.Our time constraints sometimes make it difficult to fulfill our obligations as a father or mother. And yet our greatest hopes and joys are inextricably linked to our family. I admire those individuals who balance their lives appropriately and make their time at home count. A wise man said, “No success in life can compensate for failure in the home.” (David O. McKay).
9. Optimism.For many physicians, our present day is filled with doom and gloom. Declining reimbursement, increased paperwork, and more restrictions have all contributed to this state of mind. In the midst of all of this, I am struck by the positive effect an upbeat, optimistic person can have on his or her peers. This attitude is contagious. In the same light we need to be optimistic with our patients. Nothing is more devastating to them than a virtual sentence of death. We must give them hope.
10. Humor.We should never take ourselves too seriously. Appropriate humor can lift all of us, especially patients. We must never be too lighthearted or unprofessional, but a friendly smile and attitude can help dispel some of the dark moments of illness.
I’m sure that we could have discussed many more attributes than these 10. At the same time, this list should give each of us something to work toward. As Fellows of the American College of Cardiology we have an opportunity to be the best that we can be. Thanks for reading these pages over the past 10 years. I hope you enjoyed reading them at least half as much as I enjoyed writing them. Farewell.
↵1 Editor-in-Chief, Journal of the American College of Cardiology
- American College of Cardiology Foundation