College of American Pathologists
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  Letters - June 2005

  cap today

July 2005

My husband and I spend summers in Maryland and winters in Arizona. There are many benefits, some subtle, some not. But every six months we have another homecoming, and coming home tones the heart.

We returned to Maryland just last month, so we’re still enjoying the return to East Coast amenities. The brisk ocean air is one; the distinct flora is another. Bright blooms supplant desert cacti. There is more color near the water.

I love to see the perennials return, always more robust than when we left in the fall. It is nice to see carefully spaced seedlings planted in neat little rows for groundcover fill in steadily, imperceptibly, until they form a lovely carpet. New growth, thickly intertwined, presses ever outward to cover new ground.

CAP ’03, our first independent annual meeting, was a perennial garden in the making. We knew it would take time to fill out and find its potential, but we wanted to create a space devoted to pathology alone, a place where we could recharge, reconnect, and grow together. And so we did.

Our annual event is growing like kudzu now. More than half of this year’s registrants are first-time attendees, and as I write this (in mid-June), 656 pathologists (179 more than at this time last year) have registered to attend. We’ve come very far, very fast, but that’s pathologists for you. When we set our mind to something, we see that it is properly done.

There’s no magic to planning a large meeting; it’s just a matter of listening to your membership. To plan CAP ’03, we trusted our best instincts, applied our best energies, and watched closely to see what worked. During the meeting, we held focus groups, did surveys, and studied what you said. We refined and enhanced for CAP ’04, then asked for feedback again. With each meeting, we listen more closely and fine-tune further. Steadily, imperceptibly, we continue to grow and cover new ground.

CAP ’05 will convene Sept. 11-14 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers. Educational quality is always our first concern, but that occurs in the context of an overall meeting experience. To that end, we are ideally situated, close to downtown, to museums, the lakefront, excellent restaurants, outstanding shopping, and Chicago’s newest venue, Millennium Park, home to wonderful gardens, art, architecture, and music. Chicago is spectacular in September and the city offers abundant, accessible opportunities for every visitor.

You have told us that you want a curriculum built around knowledge and skills with application in everyday practice. We need to be not only stimulating and enlightening, but clearly useful. That means a full-day session on molecular pathology, six cytopathology examination preparation sessions, more videomicroscopy tutorials, more luncheon roundtables, and a faculty tuned-in to the needs of pathologists.

We learned that many members are concerned about preparation for the new Maintenance of Certification requirements. So we added visual cues (icons representing each sphere of competency identified by the American Board of Pathology) that enable participants to identify how each course enhances those particular skills. And we’ve also recognized the growing importance of practice management skills with an intensive new course cluster that we’re calling the Practice Management Institute.

For example, let’s say you’re looking to meet Maintenance of Certification requirements for systems-based practice and practice-based learning. When you scan the program, you’ll see those two icons beside the description for a hands-on, case-based, highly interactive full-day course on Tuesday about excellence in writing surgical and cytopathology reports. Throughout the day, presenters will elicit participant opinions and those opinions will be recorded via voting machines. That feedback will frame the day’s discussion and build a knowledge base about learning needs. While participants are learning about report-writing that communicates precisely and limits liability, they will also be helping us figure out what types of follow-up instruction would be most helpful to our members.

Pathologists who want to strengthen their skills in managing financial, legal, and personnel concerns should consider the new Practice Management Institute, four half-day courses that provide an excellent focused overview. The Monday morning session, for example, addresses the responsibilities of the pathologist as laboratory director. We need laboratory directors who enjoy the challenge of motivating a staff, interacting with clinicians, and managing a host of accountabilities. This course will enable us to mentor pathologists who have the right aptitudes and attitudes for that increasingly visible and critically important role.

Social events the entire family will enjoy include Neil Goldberg’s Cirque on Sunday and Monday’s inaugural celebration, a Chicago blues party honoring our new president, Thomas M. Sodeman, MD. And our CAP Partners have created a splendid menu of fun events for spouses and young people, from architectural cruises to trips to the zoo and bike hikes through lovely Lincoln Park. There’s an outing to Wrigley Field, where the Chicago Cubs will be playing the Cincinnati Reds, and walking tours of buildings in nearby Oak Park designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

If you have read this far, it’s time to log on to your computer and register for CAP ’05. Each year there are more of us, more spouses and children, more residents and young physicians. Autumn now brings another homecoming, one for our professional family. Please come to Chicago in September. It’s where you belong. And coming home tones the heart.

Dr. Kass welcomes communication from members. Send your letters to her at