This year’s President’s Program features topics and speakers that have deep professional and personal meaning to ACOG President Thomas M. Gellhaus, MD, FACOG.
The program starts at 8 am Saturday, May 6, with Dr. Gellhaus’ opening remarks followed by The Hale Lecture, Health and Well-Being for All: Delivering on the Promise for Those We Serve, by Herbert B. Peterson. The Anna Marie D’Amico Lecture, System Complexity and the Challenge of Too Much Medicine by Neel T. Shah, MD, MPP, is scheduled for 9 am and The Jim and Midge Breeden Lecture, The Science of Healing Thyself, by Guy Winch, PhD is at 9:30 am. All three topics touch on the three big initiatives laid out by Dr. Gellhaus last year at the start of his term: advocacy, global health, and workforce development.
Dr. Peterson is Director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Research Evidence for Sexual and Reproductive Health based in the Department of Maternal and Child Health at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Gillings School of Global Public Health. He also serves as a professor at the UNC School of Medicine.
“He’s just an amazing person, and he’s been the chair of our global operations assessment group at ACOG,” Dr. Gellhaus said. “He’s really been the person that’s kept our global health efforts organized.”
Dr. Gellhaus wanted Dr. Peterson to provide an overview of the current state of global health because of ACOG’s expanding programs in that area. “Obstetrics and gynecology have much to offer the world,” Dr. Gellhaus said, “and some great programs have developed out of requests for ACOG and its members to get involved.”
A champion of global health since the mid-1990s, Dr. Gellhaus admits his initial foray into this area required a push from his family. After attending a presentation from a physician who had worked in the Dominican Republic, Dr. Gellhaus’ then-12-year-old daughter “pestered” him to apply.
“I was the one that didn’t want to go,” he said “I was hoping and hoping that we would get rejected and they wouldn’t need us. But we went, and before we knew it we had this core group of people from our community hospital who wanted to participate, and we would go every year.”
Dr. Shah, Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Delivery Decisions Initiatives at the Ariadne Labs for Health Systems Innovation, is a leader in designing, testing and implementing system interventions that improve the safety, affordability, and experience of patient care. He’s also an obstetrician-gynecologist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Dr. Gallhaus decided to add Dr. Shah to the Presidential Program roster after hearing him deliver a dynamic talk about the complexity of the health care system at the CREOG & APGO Annual Meeting. The talk will give attendees a chance to stop and think about the bigger picture of how to make sure to do what’s best for patients and the specialty.
“With all of health care’s complexity and changes, we have to understand it, and we have to stand up and fight for ourselves, because if we don’t, somebody else will take our place,” Dr. Gellhaus said. “There’s a phrase that I sort of live by, ‘If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.’”
Dr. Winch, a psychologist and author, will wrap up the President’s Program and also hold a book signing in the ACOG Bookstore after his lecture. The invitation came after Dr. Gellhaus’ wife, Melanie, recommended a TED talk by Dr. Winch called “Emotional Hygiene.”
Dr. Winch will expand on that TED talk, which emphasizes the importance of taking time for self-care, and also focuses on key concepts for physicians. It’s a timely topic, Dr. Gellhaus said, as between 300 and 400 physicians commit suicide each year — the equivalent of one medical school.
“There is a lot of burnout and physician dissatisfaction, and it revolves around electronic health records and regulations and just the business of medicine,” Dr. Gellhaus said.