Message from the President
Patrick Woodman, DO, FACOOG (Dist)
Members of the College:
I want to thank the members of the College for granting me the opportunity to serve as your President, particularly in these difficult times. In the future, when your grandkids ask you about the dumpster fire that was 2020, you can tell them stories of locusts, volcanoes, COVID-19, the Annual Convention that never was, murder hornets, and the ACOOG President who almost died! Luckily, the whole ACOOG staff was able to convert our week-long CME course from “on-site” to “on-line” in about three weeks. They did an incredible job and barely skipped a beat when, in my fever and confusion, I missed my queue from my predecessor, Dr. Thomas Dardarian, during the business meeting. Therefore, Dr. Dardarian was left with the Presidential gavel for a few more weeks while I recovered from COVID-19.
Fortunately for me, I DID recover and was able to assume the Presidency a few weeks later. I have so many people to thank; it took a recorded speech to do so. Looking forward to 2020 and 2021, there will be challenges. COVID-19 not only gave us the opportunity to “shelter-at-home” with family and pets, but we got to practice out of the scope of our expertise for the first time since we were interns. COVID will also likely take a significant chunk out of our paychecks, threaten our relationships, and destabilize our comfortable lifestyles. Twenty-twenty is an election year, for all that it brings: and the 24-7 news-cycle will run non-stop until mid-November, (or maybe later). Abortion is under attack, and we will likely see the US Supreme Court review at least one major case that will potentially roll back major portions of Roe v. Wade. Ultimately, 2021 could be much different than in 2020.
My presidential platform is about Education and Advocacy. And given the state of abortion rights in the United States today, I wanted to bring one of my speakers, Colleen McNicholas, DO, the head of Planned Parenthood in St. Louis and Southwest Missouri, to talk about this important topic. I am a Catholic physician, and I work for a Catholic health care system. That said, I believe there are legitimate health care reasons for a woman to seek out a termination. The ACGME feels so strongly that our trainees should be learning these skills, that they have required an “Opt-Out” rotation of all residents, and are in the midst of approving an official subspecialty fellowship in “Advanced Family Planning.” The COVID-19 crisis upset our careful planning of speakers and availability, so Dr. McNicholas was unable to attend our virtual “Annual Convention” after all, although I am told that she has tentatively confirmed to speak at our Fall Midyear! In fact, some states, like Texas and Ohio, took the opportunity of the COVID crisis to restrict “non-emergent” surgical terminations, like many states have elective surgeries. Texas took it a step further by banning medical abortions, as well, although both pieces of legislation are making their ways through the appeals courts. If this is the first time you are hearing about some of these potential “laws” that could severely restrict abortion, please go back to your hospitals, and practices, and like the Faberge’ shampoo commercial: tell two friends, and have THEM tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on… Your colleagues may disagree with abortion restrictions, or they may agree with them. But, it may open dialogue, and they WILL know MORE about the topic than before. Because, if I may quote my predecessor, Dr. Dardarian, “if they can regulate this, what procedure is next?”
My second invited speaker was a good friend, former President of the American College of Osteopathic Family Practitioners, and Educational guru, Saroj Misra, DO. Dr. Misra and I go back to Flint Osteopathic Hospital, where we both started our training, and he wanted to be an OBGYN. Then he woke up one day, got wise, and said, “what am I doing? I want to have a life!” and switched to FP. He gave a wonderful talk on “Remembering Our Roots: Applying our Osteopathic Tenets to the Practice of Women’s Health.” Despite the fact we are just about to complete our historic agreement between the AOA and the ACGME for a Unified Accreditation of Graduate Medical Education Programs, it has left many of us in Medical Education asking ourselves, “what really makes me an “Osteopathic” Obstetrician-Gynecologist?” Dr. Misra did a great job of outlining how we can re-introduce Osteopathic Principles to our trainees, and it doesn’t even have to take any great tactile skill or OMT fellowship. He went through the “Osteopathic Tenets” and how to apply them to an OBGYN practice. I know that each of you are listening to my voice practices in a slightly different situation than I do. But, I would still like to call for each of the ACOOG members listening to join me on my platform this year. I would like each of you to vow to perform at least one act of advocacy and one act of education in the next 12 months. It doesn’t have to be big. You don’t have to be a member of the Krewe of Isis in New Orleans, who throw hand-decorated bras instead of beads during the Mardis Gras parade to celebrate those surviving breast cancer. You don’t have to picket the Governor’s Mansion for Title X or run an Ultra-marathon for the March of Dimes. But find a cause. Find something to inspire YOU. And then inspire others! As an organization, the ACOOG has voted to expand our Government Affairs Committee to add members and to try and spread our representatives out to different geographical areas of the country, so that our outreach and influence can have a greater effect. We also are advocating for a variety of causes through our Position Response Committee, which considers requests from the ACOG, the AOA, and a variety of organizations and societies when they draft Amicus briefs, support worthy causes. Find a cause. Get inspired. Inspire someone else.
Secondly, teach. If your hospital or clinic has residents or medical students, this one is a slam dunk! But even if you have a small community hospital, there are so many opportunities to teach: nurses, PAs, medical techs, doctors in other departments, community outreach, church groups, health fairs, sporting events, school events, scouting troops. Just one. Not only will you be helping to open minds and hearts, but you will be building relationships with those individuals who will remember that interaction, and come back to you when they, or someone they love, need an OBGYN. If you need suggestions, ask a friend, a colleague, or donate to the MEFACOOG, the Medical Education Foundation of the ACOOG, and kill two birds with one stone. The physician you help train may someday be your own!
Patrick J. Woodman, DO, MS; FACS, FACOOG (Dist.)