QUESTION | What is the best thing about being President of the CNS?
Being President of the Child Neurology Society has been a joyful experience. I most appreciated the opportunity of working with the wonderful people within the Society.
Our colleagues in the front, Roger Larson, Sue Hussman, Emily McConnell, and Kathy Pavel are dedicated individuals to our professional society, and are organized, responsive and provide a long-term sense of continuity and mission for us. I have also been fortunate to be around some amazing colleagues. I thank all the contributions of Phil Pearl, Renee Shellhaas, Peter Kang, Mary Zupanc, Bruce Cohen, and Jon Mink, who formed the Executive Committee. I thank the many Committee Chairs and Committee Members who put in many hours throughout the year for our Society, and I thank my friend and colleague, Marc Patterson, for being Chair of the Program Committee and producing two really excellent meetings in Vancouver and Kansas City.
QUESTION | What is the most difficult aspect of being President?
My biggest frustration was not having enough time to devote to all of the deserving issues. I think that the CNS is powered in large part by physician voluntarism, often carved out from already full schedules. There is not enough time in one day to do all the things that we want to help advance our field. That said, the CNS has been an efficient and effective professional organization for many decades, due in large part to the volunteer efforts of our many colleagues.
QUESTION | What is your proudest accomplishment, as President of the CNS?
I am most proud of our efforts to engage with junior members about our Society. Our Society is 2000-members strong; about 75 percent of all the child neurologists in the US and Canada belong to our society, and those figures have remained stable over the last 30 years. Going forward, it will be important for us to engage with our trainees, so that they will appreciate the camaraderie and understand the full benefits of being a member of our organization.
QUESTION | What are the biggest challenges facing the field of child neurology?
Fifty years ago, there were fewer neurology meetings available to the practicing neurologist. Now, one could literally go to a medical meeting every day of the year if one were so inclined. Our annual meeting is competing with the meetings of many other organizations for decreasing amounts of time and money that our physicians can devote to these meetings. It is important that we continue to provide the highest- quality, cutting-edge meeting experience. Additionally, it is important to emphasize the one unique thing that we offer, which is that we are the only professional organization that advocates for the profession of child neurology. Our mission is to support the profession of child neurology. There is no other organization that puts that to the forefront of their efforts, as we do.
QUESTION | In what way is the CNS most valuable to its members?
When most people think of the CNS, they think of concrete items of value, such as access to the annual meetings and our truly outstanding and highly-regarded journal, the Annals of Neurology. But there are other benefits that are sometimes less obvious. We have an increasing presence on the web, with access to MOC exams and opportunities for CME credit. There are wonderful opportunities to network and to support the advancement of our career goals within the society. We collaborate with other organizations such as the American Academy of Neurology, The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. I hope
that our members feel that the CNS is their professional and intellectual home.
QUESTION | What actions could we child neurologists take to most improve our field? And what actions could we take to most improve the CNS?
I encourage child neurologists to continue to be active in our organization through committee work, serving as an officer, or by attending the annual meetings and interacting with colleagues. These person-to-person interactions are what make our meeting and our Society special. That’s why we call our newsletter Connections.
QUESTION | What advice would you give to a medical student who is interested in a career in child neurology?
For years, I have been involved with special interest groups in neurology for medical students. I really enjoy the inquisitiveness, wonder, and thoughtfulness that medical students have as they enter their career choices. Medical students are at a stage in their lives where they are open to changes, as well they should be. Although some students make the commitment to child neurology early, others take a fair amount of time. I encourage early trainees to get involved as early as possible in their professional organizations, such as the Child Neurology Society or International Child Neurology Association. I encourage them to meet and work with as many members of our field as possible. We each perform our jobs in subtly unique ways, and it’s nice to get that experience of observing what is the best from everyone’s practice.
QUESTION | Any additional closing thoughts?
I thank the Child Neurology Society for allowing me the opportunity to be President. If I am being entirely honest, it is not the President who leads the Society, but rather a team of many involved child neurologists who move us forward. Thanks to the many wonderful people who are part of this team; we are in great shape going forward in the future.
QUESTION | What will you do with your free time, when you’re not President anymore?
I recently became a grandfather, and that is an incredibly joyful and uplifting experience. I look forward to spending more time reading Dr. Seuss and less time reading medical journals.