You may be asking yourself, “What the heck is CMSS and why should I care?” While I knew that this stands for Council of Medical Specialty Societies, I attended their recent annual meeting with less than a full appreciation of what this is and why it matters to us doing Hospice and Palliative Medicine. Afterwards, I have a much better understanding. Sitting through various presentations that included slides predicting not just political ‘fireworks’ in the coming year, but political ‘nuclear explosions.’

So what is CMSS? It is a place where the specialty societies that have ABMS primary Boards and an increasing number of subspecialty societies, like AAHPM, can come together and interface with each other, and with a number of other associated entities, like the Federation of State Medical Boards, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, and others. The entities just named all provided speakers who educated the attendees on what is happening within their bailiwicks, as it relates to what we, the practicing physicians do.

Besides the aforementioned mention of how the November elections have obliterated many predictions of what to expect legislatively over the coming year, in depth discussion of the following was provided. CMSS, itself, has sponsored and promulgated the CMSS Code for Interactions with Companies, (what is known as ‘the Code’), providing guidance for how member societies can craft their members’ and leaders’ relations with industry, especially in light on the likelihood of passage of the “Sunshine Act,” which will require reporting of industry payments to physicians. AAHPM has already signed onto the Code, which is available online at http://cmss.org/codeforinteractions.aspx.

Physician workforce shortages were addressed by various entities, including AAMC, with discussions centering around deficiencies in how we select physicians, with current selection tools only accurately predicting how well students will do in the first half of medical school, rather than how well the future selectee will meet expected demands as practicing physicians. FSMB and ACCME discussed Maintenance of Licensure and Maintenance of Certification, and what to expect in the coming decade. ACGME duties hour limitations for residents were also discussed.

As the newest member of this august organization, AAHPM’s representatives were welcomed with open arms by the other member representatives, giving further indication that HPM is increasingly recognized as a crucial component of the entire continuum of medical practice. It was my privilege to represent the Academy, following up on the groundwork laid by Gail Cooney, our immediate past president. Other Academy representation included Steve Smith, our CEO, Laura Davis, director of marketing and membership, and Julie Bruno, director of education and training.