The Society Launches an International Exchange Program

As I begin my presidential term, I would like to share some of my plans for the coming year. One of my first priorities is to build on the initiatives launched during Janet Hall’s presidency. Many of her initiatives, such as the focus on health disparities and international outreach, will no doubt become part of The Endocrine Society’s core activities. I will also be launching a new initiative this year: The Endocrine Society Ambassador Exchange Program.

During Dr. Hall’s presidency, two task forces were established: the Basic Science Task Force and the ENDO Task Force. The Basic Science Task Force was created to address the challenges facing our basic science members. The ENDO Task Force was charged to review The Endocrine Society’s Annual Meeting from the perspective of all the constituencies (basic science, clinical science, clinician in practice, trainee, and international) and that of Strategic Plan 3 and to create new venues for evaluative feedback. I will ensure that the recommendations resulting from these two task forces are reviewed and considered for implementation by the relevant Society committees or groups.

The Endocrine Society Ambassador Exchange Program

The Ambassador Exchange Program will begin this year as a pilot, with hopes that eventually it will develop into a sustainable program. The concept is a giving-back initiative in which an endocrinologist and a trainee from an established U.S. center visit an international center where resources are limited and indigent populations are served. In turn, an endocrinologist and a trainee from the host international center then visit the U.S. center to complete the exchange. This exchange will prove to be an invaluable opportunity for trainees and their mentors to observe how national, ethnic, economic, and cultural factors shape endocrine care. Throughout my professional career, I have been fortunate to participate in such exchanges, which I consider life-changing experiences.

This type of outreach program will position the Society to lead a unique international collaboration and, in the process, to give back to the world endocrine community. The Society’s Strategic Plan 3 emphasizes its commitment to “the goal of improved human health worldwide.” Although many of our current activities touch on different aspects of this theme, none specifically embodies a “giving-back” initiative. Therefore, I believe the time is right to mobilize and connect our members through a Society-based international agenda. The ambassador exchange program has
three specific objectives:
• Establish international networks of medical centers as vehicles for sharing best practices.
• Increase the cultural competency of the current and future endocrine workforce.
• Improve the health of underserved populations through clinician and patient education appropriate to local needs and cultures.

Earlier this year, a working group was established to develop a business plan, which The Endocrine Society Council subsequently approved. This working group and Society staff will coordinate all the logistic and programmatic details to ensure these exchanges are a success. The two international centers that will participate in the pilot program are King Edward Memorial Hospital in Mumbai, India, and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.

Document Exchanges with Magazine and Online Stories

Because only a limited number of members will be able to participate in the program, the participants’ experiences will be shared with all Society members via our diverse communication vehicles. Some examples include documenting each exchange with photographs at both centers in an article in Endocrine News, dedicating a page to the program on the Society’s Web site, publishing a perspective article coauthored by each exchange team in one of the Society’s journals, and presenting a special Meet-the-Professor session and Trainee Day session at ENDO.

I will continue to communicate the progress on this initiative throughout my presidential year. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me at [email protected]. I look forward to a productive and successful year for The Endocrine Society.

William F. Young, Jr., M.D.
President, The Endocrine Society

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