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Douglas P. Zipes, MD, FACC, Indiana University School of Medicine, Krannert Institute of Cardiology, 1111 W. 10th Street, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202, USA.
All things change, nothing is extinguished. … There is nothing in the whole world which is permanent. Everything flows onward; all things brought into being with a changing nature; the ages themselves glide by in constant movement.—Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso)43 b.c.–a.d.17
This will be my final president’s page for the American College of Cardiology (ACC). Publication deadlines being what they are, realizing this was perhaps my first signal that my time as the president of this great organization was drawing quickly to a close. It has been an amazing year, full of opportunities and challenges for cardiovascular specialists in general and ACC members in particular. And the year has been wonderful for me because it has been a real privilege to work with, and on behalf of, ACC members.
When I reflect on the year gone by, I am struck by how much change all of us have witnessed during just one year and how we always, eventually, sort out the “events du jour” from those that will have real and lasting impact. It is a very human thing to get all stirred up over the day-to-day events in our lives—a botched play in “the big game,” a real or imagined slight from a colleague, an embarrassing typo (I had my share in these President’s Pages!)—only to let them go as time quickly marches on. Following the September 11 tragedies, for example, do we even remember exactly what pregnant chads are?
And, so, when I look back on my year as ACC president, I know I will remember the issues and initiatives that most consumed me, such as fighting the severe cuts to the Medicare fee schedule and helping to shape ACCardio into a learning-management system worthy of ACC members. And I’ll recall the big moments, when the potential to make a difference was palpable, like testifying before Congress and meeting with President Bush at the White House to discuss a patients’ bill of rights; being interviewed live on “Fox News Sunday” about the potential of implantable cardioverter defibrillators to save so many lives; and meeting with Mayor Giuliani to present the ACC’s generous gift to the people of New York and to facilitate the German Cardiac Society’s equally important donation.
I suspect that on New Year’s Eve each year, most of us think, “Wow, the year went by quickly! What did I accomplish in the blur?” Many times I have been asked about the one-year term that ACC presidents serve. People ask, “Is it possible to get anything done in just one year?”
The answer, of course, is a simple “yes,” but the explanation of howis slightly more complicated. That past ACC presidents and I can point to accomplishments and feel satisfaction about our terms is the result of intensive planning, collaboration, and the commitment of each of us to four years (at least!) of service.
It begins with membership in the Presidential Team. When I was elected vice president of the ACC in 1999, Dr. Arthur (Tim) Garson, Jr., was president, Dr. Spencer King, III, was immediate past president, and Dr. George Beller was the president-elect. The four of us met, mostly by phone, every month to touch base on the initiatives the College was pursuing and to discuss new opportunities for the Board of Trustees to consider. The Presidential Team has continued to meet regularly throughout subsequent years, with the immediate past president departing the team and the new vice president joining. This year, it has been my privilege to work closely with the current Presidential Team, which still includes Dr. Beller as well as President-Elect Dr. W. Bruce Fye and Vice President Dr. Carl Pepine.
I attribute our successes in part to the continuity that the team provides. While certainly the president calls the shots during his term, the support he (or she) receives from the team helps the College to maintain a steady and consistent course. And this is why the College is able to take on big initiatives—those that can’t possibly be completed in a year—without worry that they might be abandoned before they reach fruition in pursuit of a successor’s own priorities. I offer as examples three important undertakings that have been topics of my president’s pages and likely have been and will continue to be addressed by past and future presidents as well. They are, of course, ACCardio; the Guidelines Applied in Practice, or GAP, program; and changing the ACC’s tax structure to allow increased advocacy on the national and grassroots levels.
All three of these major endeavors have evolved over time, kicked off during the terms of different presidents and nurtured along during subsequent presidents’ years in office. ACCardio, for example, grew out of a Board of Trustees meeting held during the presidency of Dr. King. Drs. Garson, Beller, and I embraced the concept and helped it to evolve through a number of iterations to become the vast learning-management system that it is today. And I know that Dr. Fye will nurture it next year, during his term as president, as it continues to grow.
The GAP Project, too, was launched years ago and hit its stride last year, when Dr. Beller was president. It was my privilege to help fund it with money raised by the Development Committee during the 50th Anniversary of the ACC and then to inherit a project that already had data to support its effectiveness. This year, I have been pleased to see new GAP projects undertaken in Alabama and Oregon and, in the near future, we hope to work together with the American Heart Association’s “Get With the Guidelines” project. Similarly, it was my honor to sign the papers that made the College’s new tax structure official, but I couldn’t have done so had previous presidents not spearheaded the effort and seen it through.
I do not want to give the impression that each president does not bring some unique objectives to his or her presidency. I, of course, had as goals to stay the course on all three of the just-mentioned initiatives, but I also wanted the College to, for example, establish a stronger international presence, build our charitable-giving program, fund our own Career Development and Fellowship awards, and develop ways to offer Learning Center–style programs regionally so that members do not have to travel far to participate in them. In a short time, we have made great strides with each of these. At ACC ’02, Dr. Attilio Maseri gave the first International Lecture, and we honored Dr. Henry McIntosh with the first ACC International Service Award. In the years to come, you will hear more about the College’s progress on these initiatives—as well as ACCardio, GAP, and advocacy—from Drs. Fye, Pepine, and Michael Wolk. They will serve on the Presidential Team next year as president, president-elect, and vice president, respectively. I will be on the team, too, although in a quite different role from this year.
The race car driver Denise McCluggage is attributed with having said, “Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin.” She had a point. Next year, I will still work hard for the ACC, as I will in years to come, but I will have left it in the capable hands of the College’s next leaders, starting with Dr. Fye, who I know has great things planned for his term. (In fact, in the spirit of the team, some of them are already well under way.) I owe a great debt of gratitude to him and to the other members who served with me on three successive presidential teams. Not only did we accomplish a great deal, but we had fun doing it. And hats off to the College’s incomparable staff. Without their dedication and hard work, none of these presidential goals would be achieved.
↵1 President, American College of Cardiology
- American College of Cardiology Foundation