Each month, ACH President Jenni Levy, MD, FACH addresses ACH members through her president's message, sharing updates, goals, and information to keep members engaged and involved in the Academy.
Last night was the eighth night of Chanukah, and hannukiyot* were ablaze around the world. It’s no coincidence that Chanukah, Christmas, Diwali, and many solstice and Pagan observances celebrate light in these dark days. I am writing this on the eve of the solstice; here in eastern Pennsylvania, it’s been dark since before 5:00 PM. I am ready for the return of the light.
This is my last President’s letter. In the past twelve months, we’ve changed the name of the organization, strengthened our relationship with EACH, expanded the diversity of our membership and our leadership, graduated the first cohort of the Relationship-Centered Facilitator Program, welcomed the first group into the redesigned FIT program, had three successful meetings in Winter Course, ENRICH and ICCH, and continued to reach hundreds of practicing clinicians through our External Education program. Thanks to AMR, as well as Laura Cooley and Calvin Chou’s work in External Ed, we are finally – and for the first time – safely solvent and able to consider investing in our own programs. I’m looking forward to reviewing the proposals for the Board Designated Funds with the rest of the committee.
When I first joined ACH, we were a completely volunteer-run organization with one part-time paid employee. Faculty and FITs staffed the registration desk at the Summer Course, arranged contracts with facilities for Forum, Winter Course, and all of our activities, coordinated Medical Encounter and did almost everything else except addressing envelopes (and we may have done that at times). Records were scattered; our institutional memory was housed in the brains of our founding members. We re-invented the wheel every year and made many of the same mistakes.
If you’ve attended any of our programs over the past few years, you know volunteers are no longer staffing registration or coordinating with facilities. AMR has enabled us to be as professional in our organizational work as we are in our clinical practice and research. You’ve heard me mention Laura Singler, Laura Cooley, and Lindsay Overall. I want to thank Vanessa Huff, Rachel Poarch, and Janella Hudson as well as Nick Ruffin, the President of AMR. We no longer need to reinvent the wheel. This amazing staff will tell us what we’ve done before and how well it worked; if it didn’t work that well, they’ll have suggestions for improvements. They are our best cheerleaders and an amazing support, and I can’t imagine doing this job without them.
At the most recent Board meeting, we voted to extend the term of President to two years beginning in 2019. I supported that change because I leave the job reluctantly after only a year. I had very little experience with the research side of ACH before joining the Board and I had a lot to learn. I’m very grateful to Russell Rothman for guiding me into that world. Now that I feel comfortable and competent, my time is up!
I’ve especially enjoyed writing these letters. I’ve had a chance to reflect on my own ACH journey, which goes back more than twenty years, and to appreciate the changes and growth in the organization and in my own life. I know this isn’t the end of my connection to ACH, and while I’m sorry to see this chapter close, I look forward to what comes next.
If you’re wondering about the term I used in the first paragraph, “hannukiyah” is the correct term for what is commonly called a “menorah.” A menorah is any candleholder with two or more lights; a hannukiyah is the menorah used on Chanukah with eight lights and a “shamash,” one extra light used to kindle the others. ACH can be the shamash used to kindle the light of relationship-centered care and improved communication in healthcare. I am grateful that I am able to be a part of that work.