Author + information
- Athena Poppas, MD, FACC, President, American College of Cardiology∗ ()
- ↵∗Address for correspondence:
Dr. Athena Poppas, American College of Cardiology, 2400 N Street NW, Washington, DC 20037.
The overarching theme of this year is quite simple and yet, at the same time, terribly complex: the idea of change. We practice medicine in a world that refuses to remain static for a moment. Indeed, it is accelerating around us all of the time. Telemedicine, databases, digitalized resources, web sites, social media, new studies, new drugs, papers, discussion boards, blogs—keeping up with the types of information and the many ways it is communicated can be dizzying. Although we are indebted to the enormously significant clinical research of the past—which has elevated cardiology to heights unimaginable a generation ago—we must also recognize that what we know and how we do things may be soon outmoded. Our current moment, then, presents the challenge of having access to resources and knowledge that are both a great blessing and a great challenge, not only for you, but for your practice and, most importantly, your patients.
The ongoing mission of the American College of Cardiology (ACC) is to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. Now more than ever, the College must help its members to thrive in a world as dynamic as it is daunting. The vision of the ACC is a world where innovation and knowledge optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. The College’s Strategic Plan and its long-term goals are regularly updated to keep this vision in focus while keeping pace with the changing landscape.
The ACC’s priorities are also reflected in a robust portfolio of institutional activities: health advocacy, which speaks on behalf of our patients to those in political power who make laws bearing on our profession; personalized education, which helps cardiovascular professionals cultivate their own, individual courses of study and professional development; and the continued advance of academics and scholarship in the many areas within cardiovascular medicine, which is crucial to enhancing the care of our patients. These activities are driven by individual vision, energy, and ambition, and yet they are and must continue to be collaborative in both practice and in spirit.
The many JACC journals that we edit and publish are a testament to these individual and collaborative efforts. So too are our efforts at quality improvement through clinical guideline development, National Cardiovascular Data Registry registries, ACC Accreditation Services, national quality campaigns like the Patient Navigator Program and Reduce the Risk: PCI Bleed, and our clinical pathways. This is also true for our global outreach, including state and international chapters, regional educational conferences, and translation of guidelines and patient tools. Like most everything else in the world today, the ACC is a national institution increasingly—and productively—operating across borders to fulfill our mission and vision.
Collaboration and Cooperation
In this dynamic and complex world, the need for collaboration and cooperation becomes all the more important. The 2 principles of collaboration and cooperation must guide the College, its capacity, and its culture now more than ever before. Just as we use our past accomplishments to cultivate our path forward, we also must build institutional strength in research, teaching, and clinical practice by continuing to partner with other institutions and societies.
The ACC’s recent virtual Annual Scientific Session together with the World Heart Federation, along with recent, rapid statements around the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) with our cardiovascular society partners, like the American Heart Association, the Heart Rhythm Society, the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions, and the American Society of Echocardiography, are fresh examples of coming together for our profession and our patients. We cannot do any of this work alone; the pace, scope, and nature of contemporary medicine and medical research demand strategic collaboration. We will continue to cultivate existing and create new relationships with medical industries, academic institutions, policy and advocacy groups, stakeholders in the expanding field of public health, federal agencies like the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, members of the U.S. Congress, and more. We will do this with the goal to strengthen our capacity to fulfill the College’s mission and to make the entire cardiovascular care team from individual physicians, to nurses, to physician assistants, to pharmacists better equipped, informed, and even inspired.
The ACC is here to keep pace with—and even master—this changing world. It is here to keep our balance and our vision and to move the cardiovascular field forward. As we look outward, we have also looked within—re-examining our organization, practices, and protocols. We have restructured our governance from the Board of Trustees to the many committees and councils. We are also taking a look at who we are and who represents us. Ideally, we should represent our society and our patients, meaning we must be a leader in improving the diversity of our profession and ensuring we are inclusive of all people. We must champion health equity for all of our patients irrespective of their social and economic status, ethnicity, race, or sex.
We also must take care of one another. We must be conscious of focusing on clinician wellness and of working to maintain balance in our lives. We have a calling to care for other human beings in time of distress and illness. In this world of technological transformation and virtual realities, we cannot forget that we take care of real people.
Moving the Profession Forward
Medicine first became a true profession in the nineteenth century, and since that time, our patients—indeed our society as a whole—has looked to and depended upon us to fulfill something that is far more than that. Medicine is also a vocation, a “calling”—a word that originally had a religious meaning. Our present moment, like none other in recent memory, demands that we commit ourselves accordingly. The ACC will continue to uphold that standard and inspire cardiologists, researchers and nurses—young and old, emerging and retiring—to continue to pursue our vocation with the greatest energy and sense of purpose we possibly can find. That commitment comes from within—our sense of ourselves, our commitment to our patients, our pride in our professional work. It engages the world around us, and together we will help to ensure are in a better place.
- 2020 American College of Cardiology Foundation