An Honor and a Privilege to Serve

April 1, 2013

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Timothy A. Pedley

I’m honored to join the long line of distinguished neurologists who have served as president of the Academy. I’ve been an AAN member since 1973, and over the past 40 years there have been extraordinary changes in how we teach, diagnose, investigate, and treat diseases of the brain. Over that time, I have witnessed and participated in the evolution of the AAN, seeing it grow in its capabilities and sophistication as an organization that provides valuable resources to meet the diverse needs of neurology professionals. I know from firsthand experience that we have a strong Board of Directors, committed leadership on our committees and subcommittees, and a highly talented executive staff. I am excited for the work at hand.

Our Advocacy Efforts Continue

I want to thank Past President Dr. Bruce Sigsbee for his tireless efforts in leading the Academy through some very challenging economic times. He has been one of the most knowledgeable, visible and effective neurologists representing Academy members in front of lawmakers and regulators in Washington, DC.

Because our profession is still threatened, the Board of Directors has retained Dr. Sigsbee as a consultant to the AAN on federal legislative and regulatory issues. I welcome his continued efforts on our behalf, and we will be hearing more from him on these issues in the weeks and months to come.

I agree with Dr. Sigsbee’s assessment in the March AANnews that neurology is facing a crisis. Helping members both anticipate and deal effectively with the rapid changes occurring in health care is a particularly important challenge to the AAN. The Navigating Health Care Reform Task Force chaired by Dr. Greg Esper recently completed its work and presented its report to the Board of Directors in February. The Task Force was divided into three committees which corresponded to different work areas: Practice (chaired by Dr. Neil Busis), Education (chaired by Dr. Jaffar Khan) and Science (chaired by Dr. John Ney). Each committee analyzed the potential impact that health care reform could have in these areas and offered prioritized recommendations for each. The Board and, in the near future, appropriate AAN committees will review the recommendations and decide how best to implement them.

The AAN is committed to developing strategies appropriate for different types of practices that will assist members in coping successfully with new health care models. Dr. Sigsbee emphasized the economic issues facing our profession in his Presidential Plenary address at last month’s Annual Meeting, and an “open microphone” session followed the Business Meeting. In addition, 14 other presentations were offered throughout the week to help members understand the changes that already are altering the health care landscape and that will continue to occur. Given the importance of this general topic to all of us, I anticipate that future Annual Meetings, as well as a wide variety of other means of communication, will continue to offer timely updates on important political, regulatory, and economic topics that we all need to keep abreast of.

Committee Changes

Last month, the Board of Directors made the decision to terminate the Membership Committee. Its current roles and functions will be assigned to Academy staff, other committees, and work groups in ways that assure appropriate implementation of the AAN’s membership policy. We anticipate that this reorganization will also offer more opportunities for volunteers to contribute to the Academy. We are aware that younger members tend to prefer shorter term, targeted volunteer opportunities.

The Member Research Subcommittee (MRS), which has reported to the Membership Committee, will now report to the Board Planning Committee (BPC) and be reconstituted under a new charge. The MRS will now be aligned with the Environmental Scanning Subcommittee (EnScan) to provide optimal strategic assistance to the Board Planning Committee (BPC). Whereas the EnSCAN provides external data, the MRS will collect and analyze internal data. Thus, the BPC will be informed of both external and internal threats and opportunities, and be able to serve the Board and staff better by proactively identifying organization–wide data needs necessary for strategic planning.

The Priorities of My Presidency

As I’m sure many of my predecessors would attest, two years as AAN president can go by quickly. There are many things I hope to accomplish in the short period I will have, but these are some of the priorities I’ve set for my presidency:

  • We will continue and further strengthen our advocacy efforts on behalf of the specialty of neurology generally and our members in particular. As part of this, I will seek to coordinate the efforts of the AAN, the Association of University Professors of Neurology, the Child Neurology Society, and the American Neurological Association so that the different neurological “constituencies” speak with one voice on key advocacy issues.
  • I also want to continue and further develop our advocacy efforts on behalf of all neurologists, including selected joint efforts with other specialties and groups.
  • We must update the Annual Meeting with an emphasis on allowing attendees easier means to tailor their meeting experience to their individual needs using such tools as smartphones, tablets, and other personal devices and technologies.
  • Our newly redesigned website, which will debut in June, will expand the tools and flexibility for members to tailor and prioritize information from the AAN according to their personal interests and needs.
  • We will explore more business opportunities for the AAN and its products to provide additional revenue that will allow the Academy to meet the membership’s growing needs.

The AAN has much to offer the worldwide community of neurologists, and I want us to work to broaden our international appeal. Of our current 26,000 members, more than 3,700 are non–US neurologists. Further, as many as one–third of our Annual Meeting attendees are international neurology professionals. By expanding interactions with our international colleagues, we can offer many resources—tailored to specific regional needs—that should assist them in further improving the lives of patients needing their care while facilitating access to educational and other services the Academy provides.

In looking back over 40 years, I realize that neurology always has been challenged. Perhaps that is inevitable for a specialty devoted to the most complex, fascinating, and still mysterious organ in the human body. Since its inception, the Academy has served its members by helping them adjust to the inevitable changes that occur over time and affect us all. You can continue to count on the AAN to promote the highest quality patient–centered neurologic care and enhance member career satisfaction.

Timothy A. Pedley, MD, FAAN
President, AAN