Each month, ACH President Jenni Levy, MD, FACH addresses ACH members through her president's message, sharing updates, goals, and information to keep members engaged and involved in the Academy.
My desk is piled with the abstracts, meeting schedule, business cards, handouts, and pocket cards that I brought home from ICCH/HARC. It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t put any of it away. I haven’t fully absorbed everything I saw or heard or learned, either. There was so much!
I facilitated my final in-person Board meeting, and I want to thank Laura Singler and the rest of the ACH staff for making everything run smoothly – not just the meeting but the entire conference. If you were there, you saw them working at registration, helping fix A/V issues, making sure food and drink appeared on time, and helping us feel welcome.
I am also grateful to AMR for helping us achieve financial stability. In addition to their guidance, this milestone was reached thanks to the hard work of Laura Cooley and Calvin Chou. Our external education program is robust and continues to grow; thanks to their diligence, our budget discussion was far more enjoyable than any I’ve ever had before. We also made changes to the governance structure to provide more continuity and continued our work toward diversifying our leadership and membership.
My ACH roots are in education. I’ve attended ENRICH and Winter Course regularly since 1997. I didn’t attend Forum until I joined the Board, and this is my third ICCH meeting. I’m trying not to look backward and regret everything I missed in the years before I attended the research meetings. I always find something to take back and immediately affect my work, and there is deeper learning under the surface that creates more gradual change.
I had the honor of moderating three of the Oral Sessions. In the first, the topics ranged from an evidence-based approach to treating behavioral health in primary care to an analysis of humor in clinical encounters. I was relieved to learn that the use of humor often improves a physician’s ability to create a therapeutic relationship. The second session I moderated included presentations on palliative care and end-of-life issues. Each of the presentations will have an impact on how I work with patient and families. Palliative care doesn’t yet have a large research base; I am excited to see that expanding and deepening.
My third session was “other communication-related topics.” This was the most geographically diverse of my sessions, ranging from work done in Alaska with the Native population to a discussion of learning communities in Tromsoe, Norway. The topics included uncertainty tolerance, culturally appropriate end-of-life planning, and a statistically rigorous exploration of the impact of health literacy on depression and anxiety screening. Every topic was new to me, and each presenter made me want to learn more.
As always at these conference, the richness extended beyond the formal sessions. Greeting old friends, reconnecting with colleagues I haven’t seen for years, matching faces and voices to names for people I’d previously only “met” on Email – these encounters are the best part of the meeting to me.
I was delighted to meet college undergraduates, medical students, and second-year doctoral students at their first professional presentations. The future of our field is in good hands. I was also pleased to see more of the ACH “education” folks at this conference than I’ve seen before. We’ve played in separate sandboxes for far too long.
Planning for ENRICH/Forum 2018 is already well under way. I encourage you to attend. If you’ve never been to Forum, you will appreciate the quality and breadth of research presented. If you’ve never been to ENRICH, you will experience hands-on skills-based learning in a supportive atmosphere unlike any other continuing education out there. I know time and money are limited; if there’s any way you can expand your ACH world, you will not regret it.