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Just Like You


 

My name is Joe Li, MD, SFHM. I am a hospitalist who works at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. I have the privilege of serving as the SHM president for the upcoming year. I thank each of you for entrusting me with this important role.

Given the trust you have shared with me, I think it is only fair that I tell you a little bit about myself. For the “birthers” in the crowd, your fears have been realized. I was not born in this country; I was not even born in Panama. Not only were my parents immigrants—like many of you or your ancestors—I am also an immigrant to this country.

While I live now in Boston, I did not grow up there. Like many of you, I grew up in the middle part of the country. Like our immediate past president, Jeff Wiese, MD, SFHM, I spent my formative years in Oklahoma. My parents were not poor, but they were far from wealthy. Like most of you, I grew up in middle-class America.

Although I now have a teaching appointment at Harvard Medical School, neither my parents nor I ever paid tuition at a private school. Like many of you, I received my schooling at a public university.

I completed my undergraduate and medical school studies at the University of Oklahoma, and I moved to Boston for my post-graduate training. In fact, I was the first hospitalist at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in 1998.

I joined the National Association of Inpatient Physicians (now SHM) as a charter member, and what I have learned from spending time with many of you over the years is that my story is not unique—there is tremendous diversity throughout SHM, but we are held together by the shared vision of improving care for our hospitalized patients.

There is a role for each of us in HM, and I believe strongly that if we are to improve the care of our patients, each of us must take responsibility by serving our profession. There is no role too small. Each one of us must lead in our own way.

For those of you new to SHM, I want to make it clear that SHM is not run by the president but by its collective members. Yes, we do have an organizational structure, with an elected board of directors and an elected executive committee made up of the president-elect, the president, the immediate past president, and the CEO. This past year, I served as the president-elect and had the wonderful opportunity of working with Dr. Wiese, our immediate past president, Scott Flanders, MD, SFHM, and our CEO, Larry Wellikson, MD, SFHM.

I can tell you firsthand about the tireless work that each of these physicians puts in to serve our patients and our profession. Each is an incredible leader, and I thank them, as well as our board of directors and SHM staff members, for all the work they put in to keep our organization running smoothly. While their work is not obvious day to day, there are many others who serve our organization in an invisible role. These include our committee leaders and committee members. I also thank you for all of your hard work for SHM and for our profession.

Despite all the hard work that has been done, there is still so much to do. I am personally asking each one of you to serve HM in your own way. Being an SHM member and attending SHM meetings are ways of serving, but I challenge each of you to do more. For some of you, it could be setting an expectation that all of your hospitalists join SHM and attend SHM meetings. For others, it could be helping to organize and lead your local chapters.

There is a role for each of us in HM, and I believe strongly that if we are to improve the care of our patients, each of us must take responsibility by serving our profession. There is no role too small. Each one of us must lead in our own way.

I look forward to the opportunity this year of speaking with each of you, not only as I travel the country to the various SHM meetings and chapter events, but also through this monthly column. I hope to share with you my observations of the happenings throughout hospital medicine. I expect to see and hear remarkable work being done by hospitalists across the country in our continued effort to bring increasing healthcare value to our patients. TH

Dr. Li is president of SHM, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, and director of the hospital medicine program and associate chief of the division of general medicine and primary care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

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