From the chair

Dr. Susan M. LemagieSusan M. Lemagie, MD

Happy holidays! This is my favorite time of year in Alaska. Those of you who live in the lower 48 states may think of Alaska as dark and cold this time of year. However, our snow cover actually makes the days bright, and our extended dawns and twilights result in beautiful colors in the sky.

Northen LightsThe Northern Lights dance in the sky above my pond each winter, and give a static, million-miles-away sound effect to long-distance phone calls.

Women’s health
With the presidential election over, I hope we can regain a sense of bipartisanship at the national level. It was disconcerting to see women’s health targeted repeatedly this past year. Thankfully, ACOG President James T. Breeden, MD, past District VIII chair, rose to the challenge, telling legislators to “get out of our exam rooms” in a
letter-to-the-editor in The New York Times.   

Additionally, ACOG Executive Vice President Hal C. Lawrence III, MD, co-authored an important opinion piece, “Legislative Interference in the Patient-Physician Relationship,” in the New England Journal of Medicine with leaders from the American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American College of Surgeons.

I’ve watched women’s rights in the US change over the last 50 years, and I am well aware of how fragile they are and how vulnerable women remain, in the US and in the rest of the world. I hope you watched the recent Public Broadcasting Service documentary inspired by the book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. The presentation focused on real-life stories of worldwide misogyny. I also recommend reading When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present by Gail Collins.

We must remain vigilant or women’s health will be in jeopardy. To that end, the ACOG Executive Board issued a Statement of Policy on Global Women’s Health and Rights in July 2012.

Physician burnout
The other half of the patient-physician relationship is also facing challenges. With health care reform, physicians are being asked, or in some cases being told, that we must do more with less. We must cover the expenses of patient care as reimbursement remains the same or is lowered in the face of decades of rising expenses. As religious and secular institutions merge, what we say to patients and offer in care is being restricted. Work-life boundaries are being violated and causing more physicians to experience symptoms of burnout. The Atlantic magazine ran an interesting article in August, “
The Physician Burnout Epidemic: What It Means for Patients and Reform.”

It may be time to develop a Physicians’ Bill of Rights. Have you been in a situation where you felt you were being asked to do more than humanly capable? Where patient safety was being compromised? Where you felt intimidated to not speak out because of malpractice fears, religious dogma, or threats of being labeled disruptive or unethical? Email me at slemagie@gmail.com with your stories, or let your section officers know about challenges you’ve face. Our profession is suffering, and making our voices heard can help turn things around.

Congressional Leadership Conference
The 2013 ACOG Congressional Leadership Conference, The President’s Conference, will be held March 3–5. Attendance at this event, where we learn how to advocate for our profession and patients with members of Congress, rises every year. The first two days of the conference inform us about key legislative issues for the year and teach us how to lobby. Then, we meet with senators and representatives to use our new knowledge and skills.

District VIII often has the highest number of participants at this event. Contact your district or section officers if you are interested in attending. There are sponsorships available, in addition to individual attendance registration, with CME provided.

Annual District Meetings
The 2012 Annual District Meeting in Phoenix was successful, and the program focusing on patient safety was well received. ACOG held its first-ever flash mob to promote “Dancing with the Docs.” This event was oversold, and everyone had a great time cheering on the competition. Who knew ACOG had so many great dancers?

I am proud to report that District VIII Junior Fellows and friends won the coveted mirror ball trophy. But it was close! So close that we are having a rematch with Districts VI and IX, and, joining us for the first time, District V, in Maui, HI, at our 2013 ADM.

This quad-district meeting will be held at the Grand Wailea Resort on September 26–28. For program information, read “2013 ADM: Interactive learning in Maui” by Tod C. Aeby, MD, District VIII program chair.

The Grand Wailea Resort is on one of the best beaches in the islands. The kids’ pools, slides, and lazy river are family favorites. District IX will also be leading yoga sessions on the beach at dawn as part of their physician wellness program. 

Maintenance of Certification
As you prepare for your Maintenance of Certification (MOC) exam, remember to take advantage of the
Pearls of Exxcellence on the Foundation for Exxcellence in Women’s Health Care website. A mobile version of the site was released in October, so you can review “Management of Adnexal Masses” in your spare moments. 

Larry C. Gilstrap III, MD, American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) executive director, has kindly written an article on the MOC exam for this issue of the Gazette. The exam becomes available in January 2013. Also, check out the practice exam and other useful information on the
ABOG website.

Annual Clinical Meeting
New Orleans is the site of ACOG’s 61st Annual Clinical Meeting May 4–8. Under Dr. Breeden’s guidance as ACOG president, it is sure to be thought-provoking, innovative, and practical. Read more about the 2013 ACM.