ACC.19 Convocation Presidential Address | Richard Kovacs, MD, FACC

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Dr. Valentine, distinguished guests on the dais, past presidents of the College, Trustees of the College, Board of Governors, Assembly of International Governors, awardees and lecturers, families, friends and colleagues, it is a privilege and honor to address you tonight as the President of the American College of Cardiology.

New Fellows and new Associates of the College, welcome!

On this very special occasion, those who know me well will be waiting for the first sports analogy ... or for me to refer to the three things I will address. Perhaps I can get both out of the way by paraphrasing legendary Chicago Bear's running back Gayle Sayers' who wrote a book entitled "I Am Third." Tonight, I will place the new Fellows and Associates, first; family, friends and colleagues, second; and my personal thoughts, third.

Convocation is a very special celebration, and the centerpiece of the celebration is welcoming new FACCs and AACCs to the College. This new bond is lifelong, and we welcome you to a very special relationship with your college and your colleagues.

Look to your left and to your right: where earlier in the evening you may have seen a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger, you now see a colleague. The transformation may not seem obvious, but with time, I have no doubt, you will feel the power.

At times the ACC may seem large and complicated to a new Fellow or Associate, but let me assure you, if you simply embrace the college, the college will feel uncomplicated, very comfortable, and even intimate. I have experienced those times, and THOSE are the times when I have appreciated my fellowship most deeply:

  • When Dr. Rick Chazal was a fellow in training at Indiana University, he ran in to a relatively green intern on night call: namely me. He taught me not only a great deal about management of acute heart failure management, he taught me that a colleague doesn't berate a mistake, they use the opportunity for improvement. Rick "freely shared of his knowledge" – as all of you have just pledged to do.
  • When I was unsure about my future in college leadership, Dr. John Harold and I took a walk down the promenade in San Diego and led me to where I am today.
  • And when my own 99-year-old mother needed compassionate care, Dr. John Schaefer and his team were there to care for her.

So wherever you go, whatever you do, you will now be part of this wonderful College and this wonderful extended family.

Which leads me to the second thing: our families and our friends. This evening you will undoubtedly celebrate your achievement with your families and/or friends. The difference between you and me is that I get to do it from the stage.

You will take time to thank them for their love, support, and, yes, the sacrifices that helped you achieve your professional goals and this milestone in particular.

So the first words have to go to my wife, Roxanne – the person who has sacrificed more than anyone to get me to this place. I love you. To Stephanie, Jimmy and Christa, I love you and I am so proud of your accomplishments.

I need to also thank my extended family at the Krannert Institute of Cardiology and IU Health. Everyone knows that at the Krannert, Marlene makes everything happen. Unfortunately, she couldn't be here tonight. But Cindy, who came before Marlene, and Lindsey, who makes things happen when Marlene needs help, are both here. Thank you all.

The clinical team at IU Health is outstanding, from Laura, my administrative dyad, to Robin, my amazing medical assistant. The physicians who work with me at IU Health are incredible as well, and I need to give special thanks to Dr. Julie Clary, who serves as my Associate Service Line Leader at IU Health, making it possible for me to serve the College.

My extended ACC family needs a thank you as well – the staff of ACC are the BEST staff in any professional society in the world. We are fortunate to have Tim Attebery as our new CEO, and Cathy Gates who served as interim CEO while we were recruiting Tim. Dr. William Oetgen, who guides the ACC's exemplary efforts in science, quality and publications, deserves a special note of thanks.

I worked with five past presidents of the ACC at IU and Krannert – Drs. Charles Fisch, Suzanne Knoebel, Borys Surawicz, Jack Williams and Doug Zipes have set a high standard. But Mike and Minnow, Rick and Kim, John, David, Pat, Bill, Jim, Steve and Pam have continued this presidential tradition of excellence. I did not skip Dr. Ralph Brindis; but wanted to single him out for a special note of thanks. Every trustee I have worked with, and every Governor and BOG chair deserves my sincere thanks, but especially Dr. Thad Waites, for wisdom that is unparalleled in the ACC.

So, if "I am Third," as Gayle Sayers said: starting tomorrow, what will you hear Dick Kovacs talk about?

I am really excited to be president of the ACC at the start of our new five-year strategic plan – a plan that will increase member value, create actionable knowledge, increase the quality, value and equity of our care, and insure the ACC of 2019 thrives now and into the future.

Tomorrow we will continue the fundamental work of increasing diversity and inclusion in the college. We will be more aware of the signs of member health and member wellness. We will strive for fair, efficient and effective tools to maintain our competencies and our certifications. We will advocate for our patients and our profession.

Tomorrow, you will hear me talk more about safety; not only safe drugs and safe devices and safety for competitive athletes, the focus of my scholarly activities ... but also for safe places to practice cardiology … to perform research ... and to teach the next generation. Safety to express opinion, challenge the status quo and even to be a little different.

Tomorrow and beyond, I hope that new fellows, new associates and seasoned fellows and seasoned associates will imagine a world where knowledge and innovation optimize cardiovascular care and outcomes. I hope that you will embrace the strategic plan and feel empowered to make decisions on the tactics to fulfill our strategy.

As the sports metaphor goes: we need to "say it on the scoreboard" – that means transforming care and improving heart health in tangible ways, by improving the health of our providers, educating each other effectively while paying heed to sustaining our organization, and our ability to meet our vision.

But for tonight, let's celebrate ... colleagues, friends and family. Let's do so safely – because this is New Orleans by the way. Thank you all.

Keywords: ACC19, ACC Annual Scientific Session

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