Stephen C. Shannon, DO, MPH
Meaningful Moments from the Annual Meeting
Ever since AACOM’s 2012 Annual Meeting ended last month, I have been thinking about several moments during the meeting that particularly resonated for me, and, I think, for many other attendees as well. While the Annual Meeting recap describes some of the events that took place, it cannot capture their poignancy. So I thought I might take this opportunity to relate my personal reactions to moments I found especially meaningful during what many attendees have called our best Annual Meeting yet.
Our recent involvement with the national Joining Forces initiative has heightened awareness of the health care needs of returning service members and their families. But COL David Sutherland’s moving address at the Annual Meeting brought the message home for attendees in an extremely personal way. In an audience peppered with physicians who have confronted and treated personal tragedy throughout their careers, there nevertheless were few dry eyes as COL Sutherland related the frequently heart-rending experiences of service members whose lives had been altered by physical, mental, and emotional injuries. Following the address and the lengthy standing ovation, I was struck by how many attendees asked COL Sutherland what they and their institutions could do to help. And time and again throughout the rest of the week, I was approached by attendees who expressed their gratitude for COL Sutherland’s address. It was truly a clarion call to action, and a moment of mobilization for the osteopathic medical education community.
Within this community, AACOM’s many member councils serve as centers for professional connection. During this year’s meeting, I had the opportunity to sit in on a number of council meetings as members discussed important issues and shared solutions to some of today’s toughest challenges. The council members’ enthusiastic engagement with one another was a reflection of the real sense of community that permeated the Annual Meeting, and I was inspired by the hard work they do to ensure their institutions’ success.
The sense of community was broadened for me by the other organizations represented at the meeting. For the first time ever, the Commission on Osteopathic College Accreditation (COCA) held its Committee on College Accreditation Training (CCAT) Workshop in conjunction with the AACOM Annual Meeting. The American Osteopathic Association (AOA) continued its engagement with the meeting, serving as a major sponsor and participating in sessions and deliberations throughout the week. And, the National Board of Osteopathic Medical Examiners provided its annual luncheon briefing, and cemented its long-term relationship with AACOM by announcing that it will become the Annual Meeting’s first ever Sustaining Diamond Sponsor. We are truly fortunate to have such a mutually supportive profession.
In addition to the superb learning opportunities available at the Annual Meeting, there was plenty of time for visiting, and for celebrating one another’s accomplishments. At the closing Awards Banquet, for example, I was proud as always of AACOM’s award winners—their dedicated excellence is an inspiration to us all. But the evening ended on an especially poignant note, as we watched in captivated silence an award-winning video (by ATSU) that truly captured the osteopathic message and made us proud, individually and as a community, to be part of such a special enterprise. When the video ended, you could have heard a pin drop. Then, into the silence, someone said, “Wow.” That’s how the whole meeting felt to me.