President's Message

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Patients and the ATS International Conference

March 2013
Monica Kraft, MD

Monica Kraft, MD

I know I’m not alone in saying that patients are what first inspired me to pursue a career in medicine and science. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer as an undergraduate at a small community hospital, where I took part in a family practice rotation. I was allowed into exam rooms, even witnessed surgeries, and was able to talk with patients about their challenges in dealing with chronic disease. I certainly saw firsthand how medical professionals can impact a person’s life. This experience led me to pursue more volunteer opportunities, which in turn informed my studies, and ultimately shaped my career path.

Today, as ATS president and chief of the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine at Duke University, I try hard to keep patients in mind, and I know you do as well, no matter the scale or depth of the tasks at hand.

So, too, does the ATS at its International Conference. Patients’ perspectives will introduce several major symposia at the ATS 2013 International Conference, and the ATS Public Advisory Roundtable has been working hard on scheduling speakers whose lives have been affected by COPD, ARDS, sarcoidosis, and interstitial lung disease, among other pulmonary, critical care, and sleep diseases and disorders.

It takes tremendous courage to share a painful part of one’s life before a hall of people, even if the audience is sympathetic to their struggles, so we’re very grateful to them. We also value their perspectives because they reenergize our work as clinicians, as researchers, and as a Society.

Beyond the International Conference, keeping the patient in mind leads us to a significant question: How do we as an organization actually change medical care and improve the health of our patients? Traditionally, we have focused heavily on the generation of great science and guidelines, which we should and will certainly continue. But there are also many in the ATS, myself included, who are interested in how we translate our science and guidelines to patient care.

This is why I’ve created an implementation taskforce that includes ATS Documents Development and Implementation Committee Chair Michael K. Gould, MD, MS, ATS Senior Director of Documents and Medical Affairs Kevin Wilson, QIC Committee chair Jeremy Kahn and several of our talented assembly and committee chair members. The implementation taskforce is investigating short-term and long-term strategies to help us assess how our science and guidelines are changing care, and how clinicians and researchers might be better able to demonstrate their impact on human health. Among the ideas that we’ve been exploring is the creation a patient registry specific to our specialty. We’re also looking strategically at our integrating more information about the Society’s guidelines into the program for the International Conference.

In the end, it’s all about taking everything we’ve learned from bench to bedside to improve our patients’ lives and the lives of many other patients who are being cared for by healthcare professionals around the world. I look forward to seeing you all at ATS 2013 and continuing our work on this mission.

Last Reviewed: September 2017