Incoming president advocates for mentorship to help diversify pulmonary and critical care medicine

Shaping the future of pulmonary and critical care medicine is a collective effort, CHEST President-Elect, John “Jack” D. Buckley, MD, MPH, FCCP, emphasized during his remarks at the CHEST 2023 Opening Session on Sunday, October 8.

“Each of you can help in your own community,” Dr. Buckley said. “Reach out to your local elementary school and offer to help inspire these young kids to get into health care. You can tell them it’s hard work but let them know from an early age they can do this too.”

Identifying opportunities for mentorship even before medical school is one way current pulmonary and critical care professionals can help diversify the field.

“As our world changes around us, we must not only adapt to the current environment but anticipate the future and take the lead by influencing the direction we believe to be important,” said Dr. Buckley, who will become CHEST’s 86th President in January, succeeding President Doreen J. Addrizzo-Harris, MD, FCCP. 

CHEST began as an organization centered around preventing and treating tuberculosis. Pulmonary and critical care specialties evolved from those early experts, and the field continues to transform with the expansion of the role of advanced practice providers in the ICU and the recent resurgence of cardiology critical care.

“We’re excited to welcome these colleagues into CHEST as we move forward,” Dr. Buckley said. “But reflection on the past is more than looking at how we treated diseases and how those have evolved. It also means reflecting on who we are as people, which is why our diversity, equity, and inclusion networks are so important.

“Unfortunately, the progress of medicine has not been shared by all, and the data are clear,” he continued. “The health disparities in the US are significant, and we know patients do much better when they share a background and identify with health care providers.”

The demographics of pulmonary and critical care clinicians do not match the diversity among society as whole, he said, and CHEST has prioritized efforts to better align the two.

“Fixing that will require more than encouraging medical students and residents from historically underrepresented groups to pursue careers in pulmonary [and] critical care,” Dr. Buckley said.

He encouraged members to share their stories of providing mentorship in their communities in 2024 by emailing him at [email protected].

“The importance of this mentoring lies in the positive impact these young people will have on the external world, but there’s an internal reward to mentoring as well,” Dr. Buckley said, “which is the privilege of that behind-the-scenes view of getting to watch the impact on hardworking young people who are accomplishing great things.”

Dr. Buckley is a pulmonologist and critical care physician with an extensive background in education who currently serves as the Division Leader of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine for the Henry Ford Medical Group and Health System.

He has been an active and engaged member of CHEST since 1997, serving in multiple leadership roles across the organization, including as a member of the CHEST Board of Regents and Chair of the CHEST 2013 Scientific Program Committee.

He also served on the Training and Transitions Committee (Chair, 2011-2012), Bylaws Committee (Chair, 2010-2012), Compensation Committee, Governance Committee, and Honor Lecture and Awards Committee and in leadership with the Affiliate Network and CHEST 2020 Congress Italy.

He currently serves on the CHEST SEEK™ Pulmonary Medicine Editorial Board and is the Chair of the CHEST Pulmonary Medicine Board Review.