This summer I had the honor of lecturing at the inaugural American Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology International conference in Denver, Colorado. Watching newly certified Interventional Fellows don their robes to stand among their colleagues made my heart swell with pride. I recalled the moment when almost thirty years ago, I sat with a dozen or so others around a conference table creating The American Association for Bronchology under the leadership of Professor Udaya BS Prakash.
Only a few years later, while finishing my term as President of the Association, I wrote an editorial for the Journal of Bronchology, stating “we must continue encouraging the next generation of bronchoscopists and interventional pulmonologists to move in new directions…to explore the world of virtual reality and computer simulation; to participate in and develop dedicated training and competency programs; to devote energies to end-of-life issues, ethics, and palliative care; to enhance early lung cancer detection studies and techniques; to discover applications of molecular biology and endobronchial or intrapleural gene therapies; to design collaborative bronchoscopic and radiographic imaging protocols; and to commit their genius to developing novel and unique instruments and techniques for the benefit of our patients (Journal of Bronchology: October 2001 – Volume 8 – Issue 4 – p 253)”.
Needless to say, the AABIP has come a long way toward accomplishing those goals. It’s proactive board of directors, a growing membership, training and certification process, and an excellent peer-reviewed Index Medicus journal provide examples of leadership, scientific endeavor, education, and medical excellence that can be emulated by other medical societies around the world. Furthermore, the AABIP’s participation in the World Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology (most recently, the World Congress was held for the second time at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester MN, USA) was crucial to the growth and acceptance of a WABIP world vision that promotes uniformity of knowledge, transparency, and contribution regardless of one’s place of practice.
What impressed me most during the AABIP conference in Denver, in addition to the professionalism and “let’s get it done” optimism of the association’s board of directors (led by President Ali Musani and President-elect George Eapen), was the enthusiasm of the organization’s more junior members. Their desires to enhance their skills as educators by participating in future train-the-trainer programs, to assist members of foreign bronchology organizations improve services to patients abroad, and to achieve and maintain excellence for managing a wide range of lung, airway and pleural disorders are inspiring.
I left the conference with a warm sense of belonging, grateful that the AABIP had fulfilled many of its promises to patients and to a previous generation of bronchologists and interventional pulmonologists. The future is obviously full of new challenges, and patient expectations are higher perhaps than ever before, but from what I experienced in Denver, I know the younger generation of AABIP members will address these with knowledge, skill, enthusiasm and their own sense of destiny.