It had been many years since I had the opportunity to spend so much time with colleagues at a national meeting. Like many SGIM members, our 2022 annual meeting was, to me, an event that was well worth the wait. As I reflect on this last annual meeting, there are a few specific experiences that lead me to view that time as a special one. First, the clear demonstration that SGIM staff and annual program leadership took every effort to assure that each of us felt safe in an environment where many were meeting in person for the first time in two years. My comfort started at registration with mandated vaccine and masking policies for the meeting and further solidified as I saw the numerous lanyard colors around the necks of attendees. As someone who’s been described as a “hugger,” I found the lanyards to be an innovative way to allow participants to state their comfort level with physical contact while minimizing the potential discomfort of having to explicitly defend what makes them feel most safe. In addition to the comfort of a safe environment and the usual slate off extraordinary presentations, workshops, and plenary sessions, I was most impacted by the numerous opportunities to meet with others. I attended numerous one-to-one meetings, many of which were unscheduled, with SGIM members that ranged from current fellows to former society presidents. Throughout the meeting, the discussions that took place helped my thoughts about our direction as a society and further solidified our theme for next year’s meeting.
In my first Forum article, I described the promise of our diverse body of members to address the pertinent issues our society faces in clinical care delivery, research, policy, and education.1 Over the past two issues of the Forum, our members focused on our organizational values and how SGIM is working to promote policies that are most related to them. Now, four months after the 2022 annual meeting, it is not only an appropriate time to reflect on this past meeting but also to anticipate our 2023 annual meeting. For #SGIM23, our focus will be on creating solutions to the challenges identified as key priority areas in academic GIM. We would like attendance at #SGIM23 to be valuable for our membership regardless of where they practice or their level of seniority.
The theme for the #SGIM23 meeting in Colorado will be “General Internal Medicine: Meeting the Promise of Tomorrow.” The annual program committee is working on meeting content and will invite submissions for plenaries, symposia, workshops, and presentations aimed at how general internal medicine physicians will take a leadership role in education, research, policy, and clinical practice innovations aimed at addressing the challenges we face as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic and state and federal health care policy that poses a risk to maintaining high quality medical care for the diverse populations we serve.
I believe we are at a critical juncture in medicine where we require innovative methods to promote high-quality, broad-based clinical and research training to help foster the next generation of academic internal medicine physicians. We are also at a time where physician burnout and risks for harm are unprecedented and present significant risks to the careers of more experienced internists and inhibit our ability to maintain our physician workforce.2 As a result, SGIM members must work together to create an environment where our committees, interest groups and regional and national meetings present an opportunity for us to creatively address barriers to a positive experience in academic internal medicine.
Over the next several months, we are exploring ways to better connect our members, including both those who are long tenured but disconnected and those relatively new to SGIM. For the annual meeting, we aim to engage in rich discussion and are planning plenary sessions with invited speakers who have significant influence in directing the future of health services research, physician education, and health policy. I ask that each of us pay close attention to SGIM Connect and discussions within the SGIM communities in which we engage as we seek submissions for content to #SGIM23. Your participation will help us to create a meeting that inspires our members to take a leadership role in our academic domain to improve both the individual and population level health of our communities. As stated so clearly at the conclusions of this past annual meeting by Drs. Shelly-Ann Fluker and Milda Saunders (program committee chair and co-chair for #SGIM23), “we invite you to join us to craft a vision of the future in a world that has dramatically altered since 2020. The opportunities ahead of us are vast, and #SGIM23 will help guide us to become change agents who meet the promise of tomorrow”.
I am very much pleased with the outcomes our annual meeting #SGIM22 and look forward to your participation and engagement for #SGIM23.