by Sami Diab, MD, President, Colorado Medical Society

It is hard to believe that my year as your Colorado Medical Society president is coming to a close. As you might remember, I spoke at my inauguration of my desire for myself and all CMS members to find joy in our professional and personal lives, and suggested we do this by generously serving others (patients and our fellow members of CMS), being positive and confident in our ability to connect with others, and seeking connection or support when inevitably we have to recover from adverse situations.

Unfortunately, so many things threaten to rob us of our joy and can make us forget our purpose as physicians: the COVID-19 pandemic, political divisiveness, and pressures of the health care system that are often beyond our control. It is easy to yield to these pressures and take a narrow view of our work, which will not serve us or our patients well in the long term.

One movement that resonates with me is the “Charter on Medical Professionalism,” developed nearly 20 years ago by physician leaders of the ABIM Foundation, ACP-ASIM Foundation and the European Federation of Internal Medicine. Dr. David Downs shared the February 2002 article with me that announced the charter.

The charter defines professionalism as the basis of medicine’s contract with society: “It demands placing the interests of patients above those of the physician, setting and maintaining standards of competence and integrity, and providing expert advice to society on matters of health.”

The authors wrote – and I agree – that physicians must remain committed to three fundamental principles.

  • Patient welfare – being dedicated to serving the interest of the patient.
  • Patient autonomy – empowering patients to make informed decisions about their treatment.
  • Social justice – promoting the fair distribution of health care resources regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, religion or any other social category.

Dr. Downs has done great work submitting a proposal on Central Line, CMS’s policy development platform, on professionalism that has been referred to the CMS Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs (CEJA) to study. I am looking forward to CEJA’s recommendations to the Board of Directors so we can consider a CMS policy on professionalism.   

It is high ethical standards that set physicians apart from other professionals and makes us worthy of our patients’ trust. I want to encourage each of you to recommit to your mission as a physician to serve patients and communities, and find joy in our profession.

Of all our accomplishments of the past year, I am most proud of our work to secure confidentiality in physician peer assistance. Thousands of CMS members joined us in our advocacy work by signing a petition, writing letters to the Colorado Medical Board and DORA, and testifying in favor of confidentiality. Because of this work, physicians in most cases will be able to get the help they need when they need it most without fear of retribution to their licensure or reputation.

I am also very proud of our streamlined strategic plan that focuses our work on the most important priorities of our members and utilizes resources in the most effective ways. It paves the way for our work on diversity, equity and inclusion in CMS to make sure all members are welcome in our organization and all voices are heard. And we have launched two new task forces to gain a greater understanding of the needs of employed physician members of CMS and independent physician members. Together we are working together to make a better and stronger society, and CMS is on the right track to represent physicians, grow the membership and put up a good fight in the public affairs arena.

I would like to thank many people for their support during my presidential year. First and foremost, my family – my wife, Liliane and children, Nicholas and Christopher. The Colorado Medical Society staff may not be great in number but they each bring such great talent and work ethic to our society to keep it running smoothly; thank you to each and every one of you. I give big thanks to the executive leadership team – the CMS president before me, David Markenson, and my successor, Mark Johnson. I thank Dr. Markenson for his service as he rotates out of CMS leadership and wish Dr. Johnson well in his upcoming year as president.

Also, thanks to the members of the President’s Council, which met nearly every two weeks: Jeremy Lazarus, Dave Downs and Lynn Parry. I greatly appreciate the work of the CMS Board of Directors who thoughtfully led our society through a tumultuous year. And my greatest thanks go to the entire CMS membership for supporting our work and advancing the profession of medicine.

Categories: Communications, Colorado Medicine, President's Letter