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December 2017
FROM THE PRESIDENT
The Year in Review
Paul Auwaerter, MD, MBA, FIDSA
IDSA President

As 2017 draws to a close, reflecting on our infectious diseases profession and IDSA achievements over the year can help gauge where we stand and our hope to continue with progress next year. It is also a time to give thanks to the many dedicated member volunteers and hard-working Society staff. They keep our professional Society a vigorous and dynamic change agent. The IDSA commitment has never been stronger to improving both our patients’ health and public health worldwide while advocating to keep our field strong and attractive for the future.

A new administration in Washington along with the current Congressional make-up meant that many vital supports for medical research, public health, and access to health care were under review with sharp cuts threatened. IDSA has been a strong advocate for federal funding of essential ID and HIV programs while also opposing repeal of the Affordable Care Act. While the federal budget for 2018 is still under negotiation as of this writing, Congress has largely rejected these significant reductions proposed for the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). IDSA and HIVMA members were critical and continue this ongoing advocacy on multiple levels. By contacting lawmakers, meeting with congressional staff and other key officials, and participating in events like April’s March for Science, members raised critical awareness of publicly funded research and evidence-based policymaking.

Promoting the value of the ID specialty and ensuring that ID clinical care is fairly compensated are major priorities for IDSA. Data from the 2017 member compensation survey has attracted a great response, allowing compensation analysis across the field and our diverse membership at a level of detail not available before or elsewhere. This includes new insights into gender pay disparity, a critical issue to address. In a report to the IDSA Board of Directors in June, the Gender Disparity Task Force led by Judy Aberg, MD, FIDSA, identified contributors to gender disparities and made recommendations. IDSA has begun implementing these recommendations and in the forthcoming year, with a top-down review of IDSA governance, the Society is fully committed to this imperative.

To ensure a strong and vibrant ID workforce, we must also attract the best and the brightest to the field. A recent IDSA-sponsored Journal of Infectious Diseases supplement, expertly edited by Stephen Calderwood, MD, FIDSA, and Wendy Armstrong, MD, FIDSA, examined ID career opportunities. Articles also focused upon workforce challenges, strategies to move forward, and personal reflections on the diverse career paths available in the field. The 2017 ID fellowship match reflects an improving trend as 81.5 percent of slots filled compared to 65 percent in 2015, perhaps reflecting mentoring and recruitment efforts starting with IDSA-sponsored medical school ID interest groups and mentoring. This improvement is also an encouraging sign that the transition to an “all in” match is beginning to have a positive impact. Read more about this year’s results in this IDSA News article.

IDWeek this year attracted more than 7,500 professional attendees, the highest number ever, solidifying the meeting of IDSA, HIVMA, SHEA, and PIDS as the premier infectious diseases meeting. Newly offered “MED Talks” featured brief presentations on how to think about career options in ID, how to interview, and how to negotiate. These activities add to several existing IDSA programs to engage students and trainees in ID-related activities to further generate interest in infectious diseases and to provide support for ID fellows.

IDSA continued to support useful and relevant clinical practice guidelines in 2017, thanks to the dedication of expert panels of volunteers. These included new or updated guidelines for health care-associated ventriculitis and meningitis, infectious diarrhea, and the management of chronic pain in patients living with HIV. Also, there were several timely updates to the web-based guidance for the treatment of hepatitis C developed by IDSA and the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases and available at HCVguidelines.org.

The IDSA’s longstanding leadership in addressing antimicrobial resistance and encouraging antimicrobial stewardship helped guide efforts to address this global and distressful problem. My immediate predecessor as president of IDSA, William Powderly, MD, FIDSA, joined the president of the American Society for Microbiology at the World Antimicrobial Resistance Congress in September for a joint keynote in which he highlighted our efforts and the leading role of ID physicians in implementing antimicrobial stewardship. Last month, IDSA announced the first recipients of its new Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence designation. This initiative recognizes institutions that meet standards established by CDC for antimicrobial stewardship programs led by ID physicians and pharmacists trained in ID.

The IDSA Foundation has also had a transformative year, guided by a new vision: a world free from the burdens of infectious diseases. After nearly a decade of focusing predominately on global advocacy, the Foundation expanded its focus and created a new mission: to reduce the burdens of infectious diseases by advancing research, education, advocacy, and patient care. In the last year, the Foundation doubled the number of mentorship awards for medical students and residents. The IDSA Foundation has also established opportunities for both individual and corporate leadership support of our educational and research programs. Please consider in your year-end chartiable giving a donation to the Foundation.

This message highlights only some of the many important IDSA efforts over the last year. With the success of the well-attended IDWeek in San Diego, please mark your calendar to attend IDWeek 2018, Oct. 3-7, in San Francisco. The hard work of the IDWeek Program Committee and many others contribute to the success of the meeting and the Society. As we close the year, we look forward to building on these accomplishments in 2018. Please consider offering your feedback to help make IDSA as responsive as possible. You can do so by posting on MyIDSA or, if you prefer you may email me directly at: pauwaert@jhmi.edu. On behalf of IDSA, I offer you all best wishes for good health and happiness in the New Year.

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