"Those 400 yards went by in a flash," he said. "All the preparation I had done was important, and I'm happy to say I wasn't even out of breath at the end … but the preparation was just a means to an end: it allowed me to fully experience the main event and concentrate on the human connection it was meant to foster."
He compared the run – and his preparation for it – to the practice of medicine, noting that the real point to all of the many years of schooling and preparation for a cardiovascular career is to be "sufficiently masterful that we can concentrate on the human connections we make with our colleagues and patients."
Zoghbi ended his speech by telling the new College Fellows and Associates that they are the torch-bearers for cardiac health. "As we meet year after year at this convocation, you are the ones starting this journey and you will pass it along to subsequent generations," he said.
Meanwhile, the evening also brought with it the installation of John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC, as the new ACC president. Harold, who has been closely involved with the ACC for the last three decades, is a cardiologist at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. He is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine in internal medicine, cardiovascular diseases, critical care medicine and geriatric medicine.
During his acceptance address, Harold paid tribute to his mentor Jeremy Swan, MD, MACC, who coincidentally accepted the ACC presidency 40 years earlier – the last time the ACC held its annual scientific session in San Francisco.
According to Harold, great mentors like Swan are essential to the future of cardiology. "Mentoring is a stage upon which cardiologists and others can not only share their own genuine excitement about all of the new discoveries and therapeutic possibilities that define their chosen careers, but also to share their excitement about the College and all of the benefits and opportunities associated with membership," Harold said. "While mentoring requires a great deal of effort and collaboration, the benefits are priceless."
Harold also urged new Fellows and Associates to get involved with the College. "Membership in the College is more than four letters after your name; it's both the foundation and the future of our profession," he said. "Your professional satisfaction lies in the joy of achievement and in the thrill of your creative endeavors. The future and the past demand nothing less of us."|
62nd Annual Convocation Presidential Address
William Zoghbi, MD, MACC
"Distinguished members, ACC Past-Presidents, Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, new Fellows of the College, new Associates of the American College of Cardiology, guests, families and friends:
One year ago, when I took the stage at the Convocation in Chicago, I predicted that it would be an exciting year for the College. And it has been indeed an amazing year. I am proud of the ACC's efforts to promote patient-centered care; I am proud that we have — for the first time — a public member on the ACC Board of Trustees; I am proud of our increasing global outreach; and of the new resources we have developed to promote patient engagement, and to make life easier for the health care team.
In fact, those of you who know me well know that I love technology. I suspect most of us gathered here today, also do. But as I reflected on this past year, on our collective achievements, and the memories that are most important to me, I realized that the most salient features of the past 12 months had little to do with new apps, new technologies, new discoveries, or new data. Instead, what will stay with me most are those events that fostered an intense human connection.
One event stands out to me in particular: the experience of being a torch-bearer at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Now, I have to preface these comments by saying I am not a runner. I only started to exercise regularly a few years ago, with a Russian trainer nonetheless! But I hated running. An invitation to carry the Olympic torch can have a profound impact on one's preference, however. So, I started preparing. I started enjoying the idea of running with the torch — I figured I could handle 400 yards carrying a three-pound weight overhead.
The torch itself was symbolic at multiple levels. It was made of 8,000 rings, representing each of the 8,000 runners that would carry it to its ultimate destination. But it was the people that stand out in my memory. Most of the torch-bearers were champions of health in some way, either as professional health care givers, or through having overcome their own adversity, and then using their experience to help others. The person whose flame lit my torch had had craniopharyngioma. The tumor and five surgeries later had left him cured but legally blind, yet he was known throughout Oxford for his volunteer work with numerous patients at the local hospitals. The person whose torch I lit had been crippled by scoliosis — and then multiple surgeries had left him paralyzed from the neck down. Yet after persistent physical therapy he was able to walk again...and here he was, carrying the Olympic torch. Another torch-bearer was a diver who had been in a coma for months. Gradually he woke up and now was back to normal. All the people I met had amazing life stories. I felt humbled and grateful to be among them.
Then there was the run itself. Each torch-bearer is flanked on each side by two official runners from the Olympics who are there to make sure nothing goes wrong; there is also a van that follows you; I thought just in case you collapse and need to be carted away (they could have made that van a little less obvious.) Initially, I thought I would just walk, take it slow, savor the experience. But when I got to my post, the official runner asked if I had any disability, and when I said no, he said "let's run." So we ran. And for the next several minutes, I was hardly aware of my legs, or even of running. The overwhelming sensation was of the crowds cheering along the sides of the streets. Their excitement, their exultation, their eagerness to cheer us on — these overpowered every other thought or feeling I had. You just wanted to give back to them, to acknowledge the power of the moment, to let them share in the joy of it all.
Those 400 yards went by in a flash. All the preparation I had done was important, and I’m happy to say I wasn’t even out of breath at the end (one of the news announcers commented on that), but the preparation was just a means to an end: it allowed me to fully experience the main event and concentrate on the human connection it was meant to foster.
This is very much like the practice of medicine. All the preparation, all the checks and balances in place to help us avoid disaster…but the real point of it all is to be sufficiently masterful that we can concentrate on the human connections we make, with our colleagues and patients.
New Fellows and Associates of the College, you are the torch-bearers for cardiac health. As we meet year after year at this Convocation, you are the ones starting this journey and you will pass it along to subsequent generations. I can feel your excitement tonight. But remember that, just like the Olympic torch, what we give to one another is symbolic, and it is a means to an end. What we all want is human connection. Some of our patients come to us in greater need of warmth and hope, than any medicine or procedure we will ever be able to offer. The same is true for us health care providers who are increasingly stretched thin: we too are in need of human connection with one another.
This meeting, to be sure, has been focused on disseminating information – the most exciting findings, the most promising directions in research. But the reason we come together to meet face-to-face is because there is no substitute for human connection. Technology is wonderful and it makes access to information unbelievably quick and easy. But as much as better information can help our patients, and help us improve our practices, mere information is not sufficient to produce change. It is relatively easy to know what one ought to do; it is far more difficult to do as we ought to do. For that we need motivation and support, time for reflection and understanding.
Too seldom do we talk about this gap between information and wisdom. I think it is because the solution is not amenable to posting on a website or measuring on a test. Yet it is often what we seek. We talk about patient-centered care, and I believe it is important. I'd like to talk about human-centered medicine in general – medicine that takes into account our human needs, whether as patients or providers, for communication, presence, warmth, respect and appreciation – the very qualities that are most threatened by our increasing lack of time and bureaucratic burdens.
I'm suggesting we put the heart back into cardiology. I submit to you that this is as important in securing the future of health care, as taking care of patients at present. It is our collective duty.
I have no doubt that each one of us does our best to carry out our responsibilities, be it as a caregiver, pharmacist, researcher or administrator. But I want to encourage all of us to remember the importance of the human connection. Keep searching for what people around you really need, find your compassion, find your passion, and see it through. Engaging beyond the call of duty enriches our professional and personal lives. I have learned so much from being engaged in the College throughout the years. It has contributed so much to my own growth as a physician and as a human being. This past year has been the pinnacle of my learning process thus far, because it has brought me into contact with so many sterling individuals I would not have met otherwise.
I want to close by thanking the members of the Executive Committee, Trustees and Governors for their wisdom; for my colleagues at the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center who selflessly stepped in to help fill the void that opened as I carried out my presidential responsibilities; for our member volunteers and the incredible ACC staff who are tireless in their efforts to carry the mission and vision of the College; for my family who have been so supportive every step of the way, keeping up with my trail on our large physical map of the world.
The 65th trip of the year on this map brought me here to San Francisco, among all of you. It has been a phenomenal, enriching and memorable year. Thank you for your trust and for the opportunity to serve."
William A. Zoghbi, MD, MACC
March 11, 2013
Keynote Address from ACC President John Gordon Harold, MD, MACC
Dr. Zoghbi, distinguished guests on the dais, awardees, ACC Past Presidents, Board of Trustees, Board of Governors, new Fellows and Associates of the College, ACC staff, members, guests, families and friends. I wish to extend a warm welcome to all of you and acknowledge our new Fellows and Associates of the American College of Cardiology. We share your joy on this special occasion of Convocation, which marks the 64th anniversary year of the founding of the ACC. Convocation is a ceremony of celebration, tradition, transition, and renewal. This evening's formal recognition of your many accomplishments is just the beginning of a lifelong relationship between you and the ACC.
I thank Dr. William Zoghbi for his service to the College and I look forward to following in his footsteps as President in support of ACC's mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health.
I extend my heartfelt thanks to so many of you in the audience — my family, especially my wife Ellen, friends who have travelled long distances and colleagues. I acknowledge the memory of my parents John and Ann Harold and thank my relatives who have flown from Ireland to be here with me this evening. I'm grateful for the supportive environment that my office colleagues and leadership at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have provided over the past quarter of a century. I also wish to acknowledge the presence of Mrs. Roma Swan, the spouse of my late mentor Dr. Jeremy Swan.
Forty years ago in this very same city, Dr. Jeremy Swan was inaugurated as President of the College. Serving as ACC President, is in itself an amazing honor, but to assume the same role in the same city as the one person who facilitated my career and journey with the ACC is even more rewarding. Indeed, it has been 40 years since the College last held an Annual Scientific Session in San Francisco.
My journey to this moment began when I was born to Irish immigrants approximately 40 miles from this convention center in the small town of Petaluma. I subsequently grew up in New York City, attending Stuyvesant High School and then joining the first class of the Sophie Davis Center for Biomedical Education for a 6-year BS-MD program at the City College of New York. I later completed a three-year Internal Medicine residency at the Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City under the direction of Dr. Richard Gorlin.
During my training at Mount Sinai, I had the privilege of working with Dr. Simon Dack, an ACC Past President and the founding Editor of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Dr. Dack inspired me to enter formal cardiology training and introduced me to the ACC. In fact, I attended my first College meeting in 1982 when I was a third-year medical resident at Mt. Sinai.
I arrived in Los Angeles in 1982 for cardiology fellowship training at Cedars-Sinai, which was truly an epicenter for cardiology leaders. Dr. Swan was one of these leaders. He received his medical degree from the University of London and worked with leading physiologists of the time, including Dr. Earl Wood at the Mayo Clinic. They both studied and refined techniques for measuring blood flow within and to the heart, in work that helped pave the way for future innovation. As director of the Mayo Clinic catheterization laboratory, Dr. Swan was an acknowledged international leader in vascular physiology and congenital heart disease. He came to Cedars Sinai, then known as Cedars of Lebanon Hospital, in 1965 where he served as director of the division of cardiology for the next 22 years. He achieved further international recognition in 1970 when he and Dr. William Ganz developed a balloon flotation catheter to measure cardiac output and pulmonary capillary pressure at the bedside. The introduction of the Swan-Ganz catheter triggered a critical care revolution in the management of intraoperative and postoperative cardiac surgery, burns, myocardial infarction, adult respiratory distress syndrome and all forms of circulatory shock.
Benjamin Franklin once said: "Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." Dr. Swan will remain the person who most influenced my career path. He set an example of personal and professional integrity and was brilliantly innovative in research. He was visionary in building a world-class division of cardiology and involved me in clinical research and with his patients. He also involved me with both the local and national cardiovascular community. From him, I learned about the need to focus on building for the future; the importance of philanthropy; and the importance of supporting the College.
Most importantly, Dr. Swan modeled for me how to be a mentor. The French philosopher, Bernard of Chartres said in the 12th Century: "We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a great distance, not by virtue of any sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.
Dr. Swan was my giant — a blend of a scientific cardiologist and compassionate physician and human being. He and I connected over our passion for cardiology, as well as our common Irish heritage. He was born in Sligo, Ireland, during the years of the Irish revolution. His parents were both physicians, and one of my favorite stories is of a house call he went on to treat the Irish poet William Butler Yeats. Indeed, Dr. Swan had an Irish wit and Irish temper, both of which I came to know only too well.
From Dr. Swan, I learned that a mentor needs to be a good listener, engaged and willing to devote time to others, honest, trustworthy and knowledgeable. A good mentor needs to be respected by his peers and able to connect on a personal and professional level. Dr. Swan excelled in each of these areas and as a result I learned more than I could have dared to hope during my three-year fellowship and made connections in the cardiovascular arena that continue to serve me today.
Dr. Swan touched the lives of several generations of cardiologists from all over the world who were inspired to live up to the high standards he espoused. Today, his legacy lives on in me and countless others who had the privilege to work with him. His legacy also lives through the College and he is why I'm standing before you tonight.
With a growing global obesity epidemic, heart and vascular disease remain the leading cause of death around the world. With the United States facing a serious shortage of cardiologists, great mentors like Dr. Swan are essential to our collective future. There is no doubt that we need more mentors than ever before. The American Heart Association's "Mentoring Handbook" notes that, "science and medicine are knowledge-based professions that require continual training and practice, and a mentor can play a pivotal role in making that process go more smoothly and quickly." If we are to be successful as a profession, it is our responsibility to act now and grow and foster the cardiovascular workforce to a level that will meet future demands. If we fail to do this "smoothly and quickly," we will be unable to both meet the needs of patients and stem the growth of cardiovascular disease.
Mentoring is a stage upon which cardiologists and others can not only share their own genuine excitement about all of the new discoveries and therapeutic possibilities that define their chosen careers, but also to share their excitement about the College and all of the benefits and opportunities associated with membership. While mentoring requires a great deal of effort and collaboration, the benefits are priceless.
On a more micro level, the College is also reliant on mentors to grow future leaders. We need mentors to pass along the rich history of the College and involve the next generation of cardiologists and other cardiovascular professionals in shaping ACC programs, policies and priorities to best meet their respective needs and the needs of those coming behind. The cardiovascular world — and the broader field of medicine — is changing rapidly. Mentors can help ensure a steady stream of future leaders are in the pipeline ready to chart the College on a course that meets these changes on local, national and global scales to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health.
Dr. Jeremy Swan was my mentor and friend. When I contemplate his legacy, I think of the poem "A Psalm of Life" by Henry Wadwsorth Longfellow: "Lives of great men all remind us… We can make our lives sublime, and departing, leave behind us…Footprints on the sands of time…"
In 1949, the founders of the ACC envisioned an organization dedicated to providing its members with education and other services to improve the quality of cardiovascular care. From the outset, membership in the College was open to "professional men and women actively engaged in practice or research relating to diseases of the heart and circulation." Almost 65 years later, the ACC has grown into a global professional cardiovascular society, serving over 43,000 physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists and practice managers. Our many initiatives in education, science and quality, advocacy and member services are well suited to the vision of our founders.
This rich history, coupled with the College's continuous leadership in the areas of education and lifelong learning, evidence-based science, globally recognized quality initiatives, and health policy efforts are why membership continues to grow and why the FACC and more recently AACC designations are valued and recognized world-wide.
Looking forward, the theme of my Presidential Year is "Innovation in Technology and Education." I've facilitated the development of an ACC Digital Strategy that will be one of the cornerstones of my presidential year and is aligned with this theme. A strategic road map has been developed to guide the College in the digital space over the next several years. This will be a comprehensive blueprint for the future developed in partnership with member volunteers and staff and focused on our shared mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. The new strategic plan will build on ACC's legacy as a global knowledge organization that continues to innovate and engage with its members in a mutually beneficial way.
With the increased use of technologies such as Smartphones and tablets, mobile devices are now a part of our everyday lives. These technologies have become increasingly popular and will be transformative in our work flow, as well as in the way we communicate with each other globally. Networking and community-building has become easier with the development of new digital technologies. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow us to more quickly disseminate breaking news, share case studies, and network with colleagues. The ACC in Touch Blog has become a place for ACC members and leaders to talk about College endeavors, debate controversial topics or provide perspectives on new research.
President Kennedy said in his Rice Stadium speech on September 12, 1962 that "Man, in his quest for knowledge and progress, is determined and cannot be deterred. We choose to do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept and one we are unwilling to postpone."
As the College's digital strategy further evolves our objective is to have a structure in place that puts the College in position to meet the digital needs of members and patients now, but also be poised to take advantage of the inevitable changes in technologies that await us in the future.
Before closing, I would like to acknowledge the participation of leaders in cardiovascular medicine from across the world on the dais. Many of you are being inducted as Fellows of the College this evening. The key to improving the quality of cardiovascular care worldwide is through collaboration. And that collaboration can only be achieved through active, meaningful dialogues between our sister societies. The College recognizes the importance of playing an active role in the global cardiovascular community and thus has expanded on its core mission by developing an international mission: To enhance global cardiovascular health through sustained collaboration and the exchange of knowledge and resources for cardiovascular care worldwide. The College looks forward to continued collaborative exchanges in the future. The French writer Antoine de Saint Exupéry has said that "as for the future, our task is not to foresee it, but to enable it" and "a rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral."
Tonight I would like to honor the visionary leaders of the American College of Cardiology such as Dr. Swan and all our mentors. So many of them have graced the convocation podium – Drs. James Dove, Dr. Simon Dack, Dr. Elliott Corday to name but a few. We've come a long way since 1949 and I am confident that the ACC's founders would be proud of what we have become and where we are going. Engagement with the College is an incredible place to start changing the landscape of cardiovascular care. I encourage you to volunteer with the College and become active in your local Chapter and with national ACC. Membership in the College is more than four letters after your name; it's both the foundation and the future of our profession. Your professional satisfaction lies in the joy of achievement and in the thrill of your creative endeavors. The future and the past demand nothing less of us.
Tonight I know that Dr. Swan is here with me in spirit. It is my hope that 40 years from now someone will be saying the same thing about me. In closing I wish to congratulate our new Fellows and Associates of the American College of Cardiology and wish you all a wonderful and rewarding career as members of the cardiac care team.
Good night and good luck….