Get to Know Your Leaders | Reflections on a Presidential Year: C. Michael Valentine, MD, MACC

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After a whirlwind year that included a CEO search, the end of one Strategic Plan and the development of a new one, countless plane and train trips to visit cardiovascular professionals in states, countries and regions around the world – and of course treating patients in his hometown of Lynchburg, VA – C. Michael Valentine, MD, MACC, passed the proverbial presidential "torch" to Richard J. Kovacs, MD, FACC, at ACC.19's Convocation Ceremony. Valentine talked with Cardiology about some of the highlights of his year as president.

What are you most proud of over the last year?

The incredible vision and courage of the ACC Board of Trustees (BOT). They began the year by building a new Vision and Core Values to guide the College moving forward. They continued by developing several key strategies, including to identify and more fully develop benefits for institutions; transform relationships with ACC's partner cardiovascular societies; and promote and leverage the tremendous growth in international membership. The fact that we have made great strides in all three of these areas in the past year is something of which I am very proud.

Our recent acquisition of MedAxiom, a cardiovascular services and consulting firm and now an ACC company, greatly expands the College's offerings for the entire cardiovascular team. We can now supply services and education in nonclinical domains such as interpersonal and organizational leadership; strategic design; operational and performance management; and improvement and technological infrastructure. Health systems are all searching for the tools to improve quality care.

We have also made significant headway with our efforts to engage subspecialty society partners around advocacy and other areas where our combined voices can have a true impact on the profession. Members and leaders of these societies have joined us on Capitol Hill as part of our annual Legislative Conference, participated in joint sessions at our Cardiovascular Summit, and are well-represented at ACC.19.

Our new Self-Assessment Products – ACCSAP, CathSAP and EP SAP – are a direct result of teamwork and collaboration with Heart Rhythm Society (HRS), Heart Failure Society of Ameria (HFSA) and the Society for Cardiovascular Angiography and Interventions (SCAI). We believe that better options for Maintenance of Certification (MOC) will include continuous learning with these efforts.

Last, but certainly not least, the BOT has approved an enhanced global strategy that will harness the strengths of our members and chapters on the ground in countries and regions around the world to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health. We could not have done this without the hard work of leaders from the Assembly of International Governors and our Membership Committee.

What are some of your most memorable moments?

I have so many memorable moments from the past year. One of the best parts of being ACC president is the sheer number of opportunities to learn, engage and innovate from so many individuals.

Introducing ACC's new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tim Attebery, DSc, MBA, FACHE, to staff and to the College was one highlight. Tim has had experience in every level of cardiovascular care, from practice manager, to service line executive, to hospital CEO. He has experienced every problem faced by our members, health systems and patients and understands the effort it will require to solve them. The College is fortunate to have him.

More recently, I had the privilege of spending a day with Sir Magdi H. Yacoub, MD, BCH, FACC, a renowned cardiovascular surgeon and icon in the cardiovascular field. Yacoub was raised in Egypt but practiced in England for over 40 years. While he could be retired in the luxury of the English countryside, he instead returned to Egypt nine years ago and started the Magdi Yacoub Heart Foundation – one of the most impressive cardiovascular centers in the world. There is no charge to patients who can't afford to pay – and it has engaged the entire city and nation.

When I asked him why he did all of this at age 83, and what advice he would give us all, he replied: "I am just doing my job. We are the fortunate ones, and we were sent here to serve. We truly have a remarkable opportunity. Please tell them to smile often, and .... just do their jobs."

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges facing ACC members?

ACC members continue to face many challenges; from an increasing number of administrative burdens, including continuing education and MOC requirements and electronic health records, to changing federal and state reimbursement programs, prior authorization and more. Physician burnout and an aging workforce with a limited pipeline of new cardiovascular clinicians who are not as diverse in race, gender and ethnicity as the patients they serve poses its own set of challenges.

Our next generation of physicians and cardiovascular care team members are asking for leadership and mentoring training, as well as guidance on how to best engage in complex work environments. Investment here is sorely needed – and the College is prepared to deliver for them.

Are there people you would like to thank?

It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my career to serve as ACC president. I am grateful for my wife and soulmate, Shannon, my son Jack and daughters Catherine and Brooke – who gave me to the ACC for the last 15 years and supported me with unconditional love. My partners and health system team at Centra were incredibly generous and allowed me to concentrate on College priorities. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the wonderful ACC staff for their guidance, patience and wisdom. It has been a tremendous year.

Any advice for the year ahead?

The College is in a great position. We have a new global Vision and Core Values to guide us. A new Strategic Plan with clear goals that we must – and will – achieve. We also have fantastic leadership in our Boards, committees, chapters, and sections. I could not think of a better person to lead the College on the road to 75 than Dick Kovacs. I look forward to ACC.23, when we can realize our vision of a world where innovation and knowledge truly optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes.

Keywords: ACC Publications, Cardiology Magazine, Chief Executive Officers, Hospital, Self-Assessment, Trustees, Leadership, Burnout, Professional, Goals, Mentors, Certification, Retirement, Heart Failure, Education, Continuing, Electronic Health Records, Surgeons, Angiography

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