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Letter from the CEO

Dear Colleagues,

When I became CEO of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies (CMSS) in 2018, I believed we understood the challenges confronting the medical profession. Improving quality, equity, and education in an increasingly fragmented and wired world were challenges we knew we could tackle together. But the existential threats to medicine that emerged during the past year were ones that tested all of us.

Prior to the pandemic, CMSS had focused on building new models of physician learning, developing the next generation of physician leaders, and exploring how technology could improve medicine. Based on our experiences working together on these and other important issues, we knew when the pandemic began that our community of specialty societies was more than ready to address newly emerging priorities.

We could not be prouder of how our 47 member societies affirmed that now—more than ever—we must be a community that works together to address the problems facing American medicine and the health and well-being of the patients we serve. During the pandemic we have seen just how important rapid-cycle research, clinical registries, clinical guidelines, and shared learning of emerging knowledge have been in addressing the most pressing health crisis this country has faced in more than a century. But beyond research and registries, we saw physicians demonstrate incredible bravery in continuing to provide medical care to patients during the COVID-19 pandemic—at great risk to themselves and their families, and often outside of their areas of practice. Indeed, as a community of physicians, we went where we were needed most.

As we addressed the unique and unprecedented challenge of the pandemic, it was clear that CMSS’s mission, vision, and priorities—education, quality, and professionalism, including equity—are absolutely critical. That these pillars remain the foundation of all of our work, despite a rapidly changing landscape, is a testament to their strength, and with patients as our true north, these priorities will continue to guide our collective voice, collaboration, and action.

While events of the past year have strengthened our commitment to our priorities, they have also called on us in new ways. As a nation and as a community of physicians, we were called to respond to the systemic racism facing our country and our healthcare system. CMSS joined with colleagues across the country to voice support for efforts to drive measurable improvements in equity; to build safe, inclusive, and equitable environments; and to combat systemic racism in medicine. Recognizing we must do much more than just give voice to a commitment, CMSS is taking real steps to increase diversity and equity in medicine. This concrete action will be central to everything that we do for the profession.

As our mission statement makes clear, we expect CMSS to be indispensable to specialty societies and the medical profession. That felt truer than ever during the past year, and we can attest to the fact that each specialty society in our community was likewise indispensable to CMSS, as we all worked together as a collective voice for collaboration and action.

With gratitude and appreciation,

Helen Burstin, MD, MPH, MACP, CMSS Chief Executive Officer