After an exceptionally difficult year, the dedication and resilience of the CHEST community inspires hope, according to CHEST President-elect David Schulman, MD, MPH, FCCP.
In his address to attendees during the Opening Session, Dr. Schulman—who will begin his presidential term in January 2022—acknowledged the professional hardships and personal heartbreaks brought about by the pandemic but said the dedication and resilience that health care professionals in general, and chest medicine and pulmonary specialists in particular, continue to demonstrate make him hopeful for the future.
“It’s been quite a year. All of us have suffered job-related challenges this year, the likes of which we’ve not previously experienced in our lifetimes,” Dr. Schulman said. “Stress levels have been high, ICUs have been full, staff have been tired, faculty and trainees alike have been overworked, and patients have been sick, really sick.”
He expressed pride in how the CHEST community has responded and expressed his sympathy and condolences for the many CHEST members who have endured tragic personal losses.
Physical and social isolation, he said, has only compounded the tremendous personal toll of the pandemic. And, while CHEST 2021 provided great opportunities for CHEST members to learn, network, and socialize together virtually, he said he looks forward to gathering in person next year for CHEST 2022 in Nashville.
“The opportunities to get together, not just for the purpose of medical education, but to see old friends, to catch up, to share war stories, to have a good laugh or have a good cry—sometimes both at the same time—have been way too infrequent over the last 18 months,” Dr. Schulman said. “I think it’s for that reason that our participation in CHEST, both as a meeting and as a professional society, is more important now than it’s ever been before.”
He reflected on how his involvement with CHEST over the years has led to many of the most rewarding accomplishments and the most enduring friendships of his career. He encouraged CHEST members, especially early-career clinicians and researchers, to look at the various CHEST committees and other volunteer opportunities and seek out ways to get involved.
“As you learn more about CHEST, I hope you’ll use that as an opportunity to get more involved with the aspects of the college that are of the most interest to you,” Dr. Schulman said. “I have no doubt that you will find your involvement with CHEST to be profoundly welcoming, incredibly engaging, and deeply satisfying.”
While many uncertainties lie ahead, Dr. Schulman said one thing is certain—CHEST will be there to not only provide critical resources to its members to meet whatever challenges may come, but also to provide a platform for collaboration and a pathway for support for the people who comprise the CHEST community.
“CHEST is way more than a professional society,” he said. “I would encourage you to see CHEST as I do, as a personal society. Our personal connections to each other are among the most valuable things that we can curate through our time with CHEST.”
The CHEST 2021 Opening Session also included remarks from CHEST President Steven Q. Simpson, MD, FCCP, an update from CHEST Foundation President Ian Nathanson, MD, FCCP, and this year’s Keynote Address, delivered by Demondes Haynes, MD, FCCP. Watch the Opening Session here.
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