College of American Pathologists
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  President’s Desk Column


cap today

New leaders, vintage values

November 2001
Paul A. Raslavicus, MD

This year, the ASCP/CAP Annual Meeting and Exhibits was held in Philadelphia, the city known as the Cradle of Liberty. Here, in the summer of 1787, Benjamin Franklin led the Constitutional Convention that signaled the beginning of the United States as a nation.

For the College, too, this is a year of beginnings. In every odd-numbered year, the CAP leadership turns over with the election of a new president-elect and the installation of a new president. Mary Kass, MD, was sworn in last month as your president-elect, and I am privileged to have assumed the duties as your president. E. Randy Eckert, MD, and Kevin B. Dole, MD, were sworn in as new governors, and Gene N. Herbek, MD, and William R. Dito, MD, were reelected as governors for second three-year terms. The Board of Governors has appointed Harry J. Zemel, MD, to complete the remaining year of Dr. Kass’ second term as governor. Paul Bachner, MD, assumed the Board duties of past president. We all owe a debt of thanks to Dr. Bachner for his exemplary leadership during the last two years.

Our annual meeting was a beginning as well. After several years of planning, the ASCP and CAP unveiled a new, truly joint format for all of the meeting events, including plenary sessions, keynote speakers, and all convention activities. Meeting registrants were able to attend all seminars and workshops for an all-inclusive fee, offered on a daily and on an entire meeting basis. A new venture such as this, just out of the gate, can be expected to have a few snags, so consider this show the dress rehearsal for the meeting next year in Washington, DC, which will be better and bigger.

Those who attended had the opportunity to hear, and perhaps meet, the new CAP executive vice president Nicki M. Norris. She joined the staff in September after many years of increasing executive responsibility with Baxter HealthCare Corp. Her most recent position was as the chief operating officer of the Institute for Transfusion Medicine in Chicago. Lee VanBremen, PhD, our EVP for the last 12 years, has retired to New Hampshire. Lee worked effectively with six different presidents, and he led the College during a time in which the scope of its activities, number of employees, and membership doubled. Through his leadership, the College maintained its vibrancy, its commitment to represent pathologists as vital participants in patient care, and its ability to respond to the needs and demands of members and customers. We will miss him.

So, you may ask, with all this talk of fresh starts, what do they mean for pathologists and for the College?

To see the future we must return to the beginning-our College Constitution. Our pathologist forefathers gave the following objectives for founding our association:

  • To foster the highest standards in education, research, and the practice of pathology.
  • Through study, education, and improvement of the economic aspects of the practice of pathology to advance the science of pathology and to improve medical laboratory service to patients, to physicians, to hospitals, and to the public.
  • To enhance the dignity, scientific competence, and efficient practice of the specialty of pathology for the service of the common good.

These directions are as valid now as they were 55 years ago. We have an enviable record of promoting the highest standards in the practice of pathology. Our Laboratory Accreditation and Surveys programs are an example to the world of how, through rigorous attention to the improvement of laboratory systems, we have gained control over the quality of our work for the benefit and safety of our patients. We have advanced the science of pathology by promoting continuing education for our members and their staffs through our quality improvement programs and seminars.

While it is now common to require physicians and other health care workers to undergo documented education for licensure and credentialing, soon evidence of competence will be required to maintain American Board of Pathology certification. Because of these new requirements, the CAP’s educational programs are being redesigned with a focus on your pressing need to stay abreast of developments in clinical and anatomic pathology. Our new educational series, called Strategic Science, will integrate face-to-face learning with Internet technology and study-on-your-own-time approaches. The first in the series, on the science and economics of HER2/neu testing in breast cancer, was to have taken place Sept. 15-16 in Chicago but was canceled because of the terrorist strikes. It has been rescheduled for May 4-5, 2002.

If we are to provide patients with the best pathology services possible, our specialty must advance economically. We have a highly skilled staff in the Division of Government and Professional Affairs that is representing your interests with the legislators and regulators in Washington. We have expanded our focus on the state-level issues that are affecting your practices. A State Affairs Committee has become a standing College committee that will work hand in hand with state pathology associations to monitor and influence potential legislation that may run counter to patient interests. Our efforts with the popular media in promoting a dignified image of the pathologist as a caring physician who provides patient services of a fundamental and critical nature are bearing fruit.

Not coincidentally, the change in command at the College signals a change in the authorship of this column. I have enjoyed reading the insightful comments of my predecessors, and I hope during my term I can not only share with you my thoughts on the status of medicine and pathology, but also indulge in personal observations about our College and ourselves.

In my mind, "College" stands for more than an institution of higher learning; it stands also for collegiality and the bond of professionalism, friendship, and mentoring that unites us as peers in our work for, as the Constitution says, "the common good." The College is our collective community, yet your loyalty is not taken for granted. College leaders and staff, and the hundreds of your colleagues who are active in our committees, are working hard to meet not only your needs but also your expectations. We derive our energy and identity from the values you hold and express to your patients and your colleagues. Join us in advancing excellence.