College of American Pathologists
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  President’s Desk Column


cap today

Turning ideas into action plans

November 2002
Paul A. Raslavicus, MD

The ideal of bettering our practices through advocacy, education, and research is the driving force of our College. This ideal becomes real through the involvement of our members. While at "home base" we rely on our own efforts and those of our groups, within the College we look to our committee members to advance excellence. Each year we revitalize our committees by appointing new members, and I welcome all of you who will be joining the several hundred other members who serve their specialty through active involvement. Your presence reinvigorates us; you bring new ideas, and through your ideas new opportunities to serve our broad-based specialty. Thank you for your dedication.

While you are the lifeblood of the College, the members of the Board of Governors ensure that the association is appropriately staffed and organized to deliver the services the profession needs. The Board spends significant time scanning the environment and developing strategies to turn ideals into ideas, and ideas into action plans.

At its most recent meeting, the Board took a hard look at our structure to see whether we could do better with improved housekeeping. As a result, the Board redesigned two of its four councils. It dissolved its Council on Practice and Education and created a Council on Membership. This new council will focus exclusively on membership needs, with an emphasis on recruitment, retention, and enhanced member services. It will continue to make sure that residents’ needs are met, but will also attend to other categories of membership, including our affiliate members and growing ranks of emeritus members. To better categorize the affiliate member pathologist group, the Board will recommend to the membership that the category name be changed to "international member."

Recognizing education as a principal objective, the Board elevated the status of our Education Committee, designating it a committee of the Board. This committee will ensure that the College’s educational programming is needed and valued by our membership. A new education plan was also approved. It calls for expanded Web activities, a new and dynamic national meeting, programs that enhance the ability of residency directors to run superb residency training programs, and more workplace-based learning opportunities.

The recently launched freestanding Strategic Science programs emphasize these new features. The latest Strategic Science program on human papillomavirus testing, held in September, addressed the paradigm shift that HPV-testing technology as a method for detecting cervical cancer has brought to cytology. It was a rousing success, with a sold-out crowd of more than 215 practitioners. The 2003 Strategic Science program will focus on molecular pathology. Register early.

In September I sent out a personal letter announcing the College’s stand-alone national meeting, CAP 2003, to be held in San Diego Sept. 10-14. This accelerated transition (a year sooner than planned), requested by the American Society for Clinical Pathology, has challenged our resources. We have worked hard and are well on the way to a meeting par excellence, one that will be more than worth your while to attend. We are structuring the meeting to support member skills and needs in education, networking, and advocacy, with a consistent focus on relevance for the pathology practice. The meeting will feature a new format with nationally and internationally known speakers, poster sessions, and industry-sponsored workshops. It will provide opportunities for informal idea exchange in a fine harborside setting. We will provide a cyber cafĂ© and several social functions. Ample time will be available for the House of Delegates and the Residents Forum. With the active participation of other pathology associations, the meeting will reverberate with synergetic enthusiasm; it is not to be missed.

The Board’s actions at its August meeting also altered the Council on Government and Professional Affairs. Two new committees were created, and the Government Affairs and State Affairs committees were merged. The Pathology Practice Committee will become a powerful force in dealing with nonfederal but national private-sector organizations that significantly affect public opinion on health care issues, including those in pathology and laboratory medicine. It will also administer PathFocus, the pathology staffing program. The Performance Measures and Quality Committee will emphasize to all our professional commitment to quality care through the practice of evidence-based pathology, outcomes analysis, and dedication to error-proofing our systems.

With dynamic member involvement, we are harnessing new opportunities. Thomas Edison said, "Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." Our pathologists, whether in their practices or for the College, are indeed working. They are seizing the moment and making the ideals of the past the realities of today.