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July/August 2015
From the President
Setting IDSA’s Course to Lead the Future of ID

A strategic planning process is, by definition, a means for setting a course for the future. But, as Winston Churchill once said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Thus, during its June meeting, the IDSA Board of Directors spent a fair amount of time examining the effectiveness of our activities in order to readjust our course accordingly—building on the initiatives that have been successful, and refining our tactics based on the issues facing the field of Infectious Diseases today.

Your responses to the member survey in preparation for the strategic planning meeting were invaluable, and on behalf of the entire Board and staff of IDSA, I thank you for the insightful feedback you provided. Many consistent themes emerged from that survey and those helped shape the priorities we ultimately defined. Over the next two to three years, IDSA’s top priorities are:

  • To promote the value of the ID specialist
  • To attract the best and brightest to ID     
  • To promote ID leadership in antimicrobial resistance efforts and antimicrobial stewardship
  • To continue to produce useful, timely, and relevant guidelines
  • To promote ID/HIV research and its clinical translation
  • To advocate for essential funding for critical prevention and public health programs in ID/HIV                    

In many respects, these are not “new” priorities. Rather, they encompass the priorities the Society has been addressing over the last several years. What is new, however, is a greater emphasis on two key areas: First is attracting students and residents to ID in light of the decreasing number of applicants for ID fellowships, both adult and pediatric. The work of our Task Force on ID Recruitment, under the leadership of Wendy Armstrong, MD, FIDSA, chair of IDSA’s ID Training Program Directors Committee, is well underway, examining the match results and other existing data, reviewing current efforts to recruit young physicians into the field. Ultimately this group will make recommendations on additional efforts the Society should undertake in the short and long term. The second key area is promoting the value of the ID specialist in the changing healthcare system. We are in the process of conducting a compensation survey of our membership so that we can gather accurate information that will allow us to better advocate for the profession and to attract the best and the brightest to our field. Clearly, these two priorities directly relate to each other. We will not be able to attract the best and the brightest people to the field absent attractive career opportunities.

This is at the core of IDSA’s mission — to define and promote the specialty. Although many organizations share our commitment to research, education, public health and prevention, IDSA is unique in one respect: Only IDSA has defined its role as making sure the specialty continues to prosper and its value is appropriately recognized by policymakers and other key stakeholders across the healthcare system.

Many efforts to address each of these six priorities are ongoing or already underway, thanks to the work of IDSA’s many committees and task forces, as well as the IDSA Education and Research Foundation. In the coming months, the Board and staff will be developing specific implementation plans to enhance efforts, especially those related to attracting people to the specialty and promoting ID’s value. In addition, we are going to re-evaluate and enhance the development of clinical practice guidelines, an activity that IDSA members continue to rate highly.

The Society will continue its important initiatives on antimicrobial resistance, federal funding for ID and HIV programs, global health, and all the work related to IDWeek, our journals, and other educational efforts. Future decisions about resource allocations will be based on these priorities, including the investment of new resources to promote the specialty, which are now feasible given that the Society’s financial position has grown stronger. These efforts will be shared with you here in IDSA News and in other venues. To read the complete Statement of Purpose and Long Term Goals/Objectives outlined by the Board, log in to the members-only My IDSA section of the website.

As I have said numerous times during my tenure as president of IDSA, I am proud to be a member of a Society so committed to the field and the professionals for whom it is a calling. I look forward to being a part of meeting these goals and objectives and working with each of you in that pursuit.

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