Ask Not…

February 27, 2013

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Dr. Bruce Sigsbee

About five years ago, the AA N established a new vision “to be indispensable to its members.” Unlike some similar efforts in other organizations, this vision is commonly raised at committee meetings, board meetings, and daily in conversations. There are many efforts to meet the varying needs of our diverse membership. Summarized below are a number of major initiatives to help and support you.

  1. MOC resources: One of the recent major changes initiated by the American Board of Medical Specialties is maintenance of certification (MOC). The AA N has developed a number of tools to assist in MOC with the intent of meeting the requirements, recording required steps, and keeping it simple.
  2. AAN Annual Meeting: While the offerings at the Annual Meeting are comprehensive, many view the organization as needing improvement. There is an active program to substantially improve the flow of the meeting; in particular, to accommodate the needs of those who can attend only half of he event.
  3. Subspecialty in Focus: There are at least 27 subspecialties of neurology. In the past, Annual Meeting courses focused on the basics of each subspecialty. Now, the Subspecialty in Focus program permits integration of the poster presentation and courses into one block of time with courses addressing more advanced topics.
  4. Subspecialty society collaboration: The AA N has made a concerted effort to meet with the leadership of the subspecialty organizations to identify areas where we can work together, including education and advocacy.
  5. Integrated Neuroscience: Annual Meeting programs now include poster presentations and platform presentations focusing on an important area of advancement over the past year.

At this time of change in AA N leadership, we want to emphasize the importance of member contributions to the efforts of the Academy, particularly in Washington, DC.
One of John Kennedy’s quotes—“Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”—embodies the need not only for the AA N to focus on serving the membership but also the importance of member contributions to those efforts.

  • Neurology is a small specialty, representing about 2 percent of physicians. We cannot afford to become fragmented. In the past 15 years, we have exercised disproportionate influence over legislation and regulations. Yet, if we become fragmented, others will make decisions for our specialty.
  • Do not become angry at the wrong entity. With regard to recent cuts to reimbursement, we have heard statements over the past few weeks such as “the AA N was asleep at the wheel” or “how could you let this happen?” Nothing could be further from the truth. It was the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency of the federal government, which changed EMG and NCS reimbursement without notice or the ability to comment. It is CMS that is driving the implementation of electronic health records and quality measures as a component of reimbursement.
  • Your participation is critical. First of all, your continued membership is critical. Now more than ever we need those resources to fight for the specialty and our patients. The AA N is the only organization representing neurology in Washington, ranging from the needs of solo private practice to academic departments and research. Please respond when we send out Action Alerts and ask you to contact your congressional delegation. Congress counts the number of messages as a measure of importance of the issue. Consider participating in Neurology on the Hill or the more comprehensive advocacy training, the Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum.

The American Academy of Neurology is sound at this point. Over recent years, we have reevaluated every activity from governance to committee organization, both internally and externally. I believe the AA N will be in great hands with our new president, Dr. Timothy A. Pedley, and the new Board of Directors.

Bruce Sigsbee, MD, FAAN
President, AAN

Timothy A. Pedley, MD, FAAN
President Elect, AAN