Thank you for the welcome to the start of my term as President of IDSA. I am honored to hold this position in an organization that, like many of our members, shares deep commitments to advance our knowledge of infectious diseases and to improve the care of our patients. When I was in the early years of my career, I thought of the Society mainly as an organization that produced an annual meeting (now IDWeek) and peer-reviewed journals, Clinical Infectious Diseases, The Journal of Infectious Diseases, and now Open Forum Infectious Diseases. Along with clinical practice guidelines, each of these member benefits remains highly important to my practice of infectious diseases. As my time with the Society progressed, working with the many superb staff of our Society, I came to value the outstanding reputation IDSA has earned in advising policymakers and regulators. Such work is hard and the process slower than desired, but is so important to our lives as infectious disease professionals.
Some members may be unaware of the daily work canvassing opinions of our member volunteers in response to important potential legislative actions and translating our beliefs to help inform and hopefully guide our efforts in Washington. This is how the Society advocates for science, public health, and promoting the value of the infectious diseases professional. Our tireless efforts on Capitol Hill help ensure that funding for research is secure and that legislation has the best interests of public health in mind. So far this year, our members have sent nearly 14,000 emails to Capitol Hill and have conducted over 335 meetings with congressional officials and key administration officials. Every IDSA member can add further heft and be a more active member. Many joined the call for advocacy work this past year, and I hope many more will continue to do so. Our Member Advocacy Program (MAP) is a wonderful way to advocate for the field with as much, or as little, time and effort as you have to share.
With more than 7,500 professional attendees in San Diego, I came away from IDWeek 2017 with a sense of enthusiasm from our members. These are both challenging and exciting times for our field. This is a pivotal time in health care and I am excited to begin my presidency at a time when we can use our collective voice to make a difference. I want to thank all of those who made IDWeek such a success including the program committee, those who volunteered their time as speakers, our partner societies, and staff.
During IDWeek, the IDSA Board of Directors approved several new initiatives. Under the excellent leadership of IDSA’s Immediate Past President, Bill Powderly, MD, FIDSA, a new task force will develop recommendations for aligning the Society’s governance structure with its six strategic priorities. This group will also consider diversity and inclusion issues as they relate to governance and will also examine nominations and election processes.
The 2018 IDSA budget approved by the Board included support for efforts critical to infectious diseases, most notably engagement with the Presidential Administration and Congress. A number of newer initiatives speak to growth areas within infectious diseases as well as addressing ongoing challenges: examples include the IDSA Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence program, which you can read more about in this newsletter; the establishment of a working group on drug addiction and infectious diseases; the continued development of an antimicrobial stewardship curriculum for fellows; the launch of a pilot program for tele-antimicrobial stewardship programs in long-term care facilities; and the expansion of the Clinical Fellows Meeting held each spring. We will also study the feasibility of creating a Leadership Institute targeted to the needs of ID physicians. I look forward to sharing more information about each of these initiatives as they develop.
Since joining IDSA 25 years ago, I have seen our membership grow tremendously, now reaching over 11,000. We have a powerful collective voice. There is power in numbers, and if you know colleagues who have let their membership lapse or who have never joined, suggest they may help their patients and their profession by aiding in that collective voice. Opportunities to get involved are not limited to advocacy work. Think about what matters most to you as an ID professional. What would you most like to see the Society doing on your behalf? Share your knowledge and those thoughts with us--help us move the needle on the changes and the improvements you would like to see. MyIDSA is one great place to share those thoughts and ideas with the Society, or I invite you to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.