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You Are a Vital Part of ISMS
Nestor A. Ramirez-Lopez, MD
ISMS President
Nestor A. Ramirez, MD, MPH

Organizations of all types, but especially professional associations like ISMS, thrive on clarity of purpose. All our passion and expertise won't add up to much if they are not focused on well-understood and worthwhile objectives.

In my inaugural speech to the ISMS House of Delegates, which I had the privilege of delivering at the ISMS annual meeting in April, I said that we should be insistent when stating our goals, persistent in restating our convictions and consistent in our statements to strengthen our position. Having discussed how we can accomplish our goals, I'd like to take this opportunity to lay out what those goals, convictions and statements are, as I see them.

ISMS is, above all, a professional organization that represents and unifies Illinois physicians. Unity is the key word here. Regardless of location, specialty, national origin or other differentiating factors, we are all physicians, engaged in the ethical practice of the science and art of medicine.

Anyone who is paying attention knows that our profession is under siege, and unless we stick together, we will be weakened and torn asunder. As Benjamin Franklin once said, "If we do not hang together, we shall surely hang separately." Of course, many will prefer the more positive tone of our AMA in its former tagline: "Together, we are stronger!"

Unity is a goal in itself, but it is also an engine for action. ISMS is active on a wide array of issues, but it all comes down to this: ISMS serves physicians so that physicians can better serve patients. The key word here is service. Helping doctors overcome the obstacles of daily practice is often ISMS’ best tool for promoting the doctor-patient relationship and improving public health.

Of course, we also use our expertise to make patients' lives better. Our success in helping to advance the Network Adequacy and Transparency Act (NAT Act), as well as our ongoing work to promote greater use of advance directives and awareness of prescription drug take-back events, are prime examples of our patient-focused initiatives.

The needs of Illinois physicians and patients will change over time. But ISMS has for more than 175 years protected the profession of medicine, maintained its noble ideals, and given firm support to the myriad tasks and endeavors of Illinois doctors: caring for patients, educating younger physicians, building communities, engaging in charitable activities, and being human. We are dedicated to doing all this for many more years, whatever the future may bring.

Dedication is the key word here. Doctors are just regular people, but with a special propensity to give, share, and care – over and over again. ISMS is dedicated to delivering essential resources and services to our members to help them do these things better.

Whether you are employed, in independent or group practice, hospital-based, rural or urban, specialist or generalist, academic or research, or still in training, you are a vital part of ISMS. We are here to promote unity, service and dedication. As long as ISMS members stand together, the profession of medicine will remain strong, ready to weather whatever storms we may face.

My personal motto for this year is "ISMS: I Believe." I believe in our Society, our profession, and our ability to work together to help our patients and make Illinois a better place to live for all of us. I hope everyone reading this shares that belief – or if you don't, I hope you will reach out to me and give me a chance to share it with you.

I look forward to hearing from you. During my term, I can be reached at DrRamirez@isms.org.

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