I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. The bad news is the holidays are over. The good news is we can formulate resolutions for 2006. For those of us from New Orleans, 2005 was a bit too memorable and will be easy to beat.
In the two years I have to serve you as president, I hope to meet and set realistic short and long term goals for our Society. I am very fortunate to be able to draw on the extraordinary vision of some (though certainly not all) of the thought leaders in child neurology gathered at the December 3 joint CNS/CNF board retreat. A number of topics were discussed in depth during the all-day meeting, including the internal working of the Society and Foundation, workforce and education issues, and the role of child neurologist in the larger medical and public, or lay, community.
A key issue taken up at the retreat involved the structural relationship between the Child Neurology Society and the Child Neurology Foundation. The consensus viewpoint was that the CNF should move back in the direction of being a sub-organization of the CNS that serves the mission of the CNS through the limited function of fund-raising. A task force will be appointed to decide what formal action is needed to implement this change. Eliminating the redundancy of activities and confused identities presented to outside organizations, as well as our membership, will give added strength to the common voice needed to address the myriad internal and external issues confronting child neurology in a rapidly changing and deeply challenging public health environment.
The overall health of a professional association is often best reflected in its annual meeting. Seen from that perspective, the CNS is in excellent health, with the 34th Annual CNS Meeting in Los Angeles continuing the trend of robust growth with a record attendance of 827. Special thanks are due the many members who took the time to very thoughtfully reflect upon their experience at this and past CNS meetings, offering a wealth of suggestions for how we might better serve their CME needs in the future. While not all suggestions can be incorporated at once, we will make every effort, beginning in 2006, to substantively respond to the needs and concerns around which a rough consensus for improvement has emerged. A key focus in our approach to this year’s meeting will be to provide translational information integrating both the basic science as well as the clinical arm. Our hope is that this will afford individuals, regardless of their specific area of interest, significant value and meaningful application to their direct care of children.
Work force issues have become a lead agenda item at CNS Executive Committee meetings in recent years. Institutional recognition of contributions made by our subspecialty and appropriate reimbursement for the high level of work provided is critically important for the continued growth and viability of our field.
Under the direction of Past-President, Jim Bale, funds derived from two HRSA grants have been used to develop surveys
of pediatricians and families of patients to further define the scope and nature of the national shortage of child neurologists. It is hoped that data from these surveys will substantiate and amplify data from previous workforce surveys commissioned by the CNS of pediatric neurologists. Data from these surveys will then be used in lobbying efforts aimed at developing policy initiatives addressing the workforce shortage and related patient access issues.
Finally, I would like to make one important request. I am very interested in involving more members of the CNS in the work of its various committees. Work done by these committees is vitally important to the future wellbeing of the Society and subspecialty for which it speaks. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming more active in the Society please let me know.
Again, I want to thank everyone for allowing me to represent the Child Neurology Society as President. I consider it an honor and a privilege. I hope to be responsive to the needs of the members and in so doing, help move the Society in directions that will positively impact our chosen profession well beyond my two-year tenure. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and comments.