Immediate past chair’s report: Closing thoughts

Richard_W_HendersonRichard W. Henderson, MD

It has been a distinct honor and privilege to serve as District III chair for the past three years. It is difficult to find words to adequately describe what it has meant to represent District III on the ACOG Executive Board and Council of District Chairs (CDC).

From the district level, I am happy to report District III remains financially sound. Your District Advisory Council has embraced its fiduciary responsibilities and continued to work hard to be good stewards of your district dues. I’m confident this will not change with the incoming district leaders. They are all wonderful individuals with outstanding records of service at the district and section levels and great leadership qualities. It has been a pleasure to work with them over the years, and the district remains in good hands.

During my term as district chair, I have remained energized by the continued commitment and dedication of the leadership of each of our sections. Over the past three years, it has been my absolute pleasure to repeatedly report to the Executive Board and CDC on the outstanding achievements and activities of our sections. I look forward to Dr. Apuzzio having the same experience.

Clearly, the future of our specialty is our Junior Fellows! Over the past six years, our district and section Junior Fellow leadership has been truly amazing. Our District III Junior Fellow Day, which has been planned and executed by the Junior Fellow leadership, has grown in attendance each year. As a result, it has been recognized as one of the largest and most successful gatherings of Junior Fellows across ACOG. It has also become a model for Junior Fellow activities in other districts. We should be proud of our Junior Fellows and continue to support this important activity moving forward.

In closing, I would like to focus on one of the most important conversations in medicine today—women’s health care. This is a conversation that began when ACOG was established in 1951 and has focused on improving the health care of women; protecting reproductive rights and the advancement of our specialty through education; conducting vigorous scientific research; and advancing clinical practice. As this conversation continues into the 21st century, I believe it will be expanded to include four other important issues.

The first is the reality that medicine and the delivery of health care will continue to change at a rapid pace. The recent implementation of the Affordable Care Act is an example of that change, and it’s likely just the tip of the iceberg. ACOG must continue its work to be recognized as a valued and trusted source of information for women and as a resource for our membership as we work to understand and navigate the pace of change.

The second issue will be recognition of the impact the projected changes in our workforce will have on our practices and the models of care in which we practice. As the premier organization of physicians committed to women’s health care, this is a conversation that ACOG must continue to lead while collaborating with those who share our concerns and interests in women’s health care.

The third issue will be our ongoing efforts to maintain a balance between our increasing global outreach activities to improve the health care of women in other countries and the work that remains to be done here in the US. Significant disparities in health care outcomes persist for women of color as well as for those who are either uninsured or underinsured. ACOG’s advocacy role on behalf of these women must remain strong.

The fourth issue will be our need for increasing political and legislative advocacy as physicians. We must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing the increasing intrusion of legislators and politics into the fabric of medicine as a whole and women’s health care specifically. It will be imperative that we keep legislators out of our exam rooms. I hope more District III members will join and support ACOG’s federal political action committee, Ob-GynPAC, and its advocacy role on our behalf to make this a reality. (You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or a decision not to contribute. Contributions from foreign nationals are not permitted.)