Let me start with the all-important human element. Everyone recognizes that we are living in a time of burgeoning social media. But ironically, as everyone gets more and more connected virtually, maintaining real human connections is becoming more and more difficult.
Our Georgetown Clinical Society, which has kept a small group of doctors together for over a century, has bucked this trend. We meet with colleagues and peers, share meals, and enjoy interesting lectures together. In this way, the GCS allows us to preserve the personal touch, the human element, which has historically defined our profession. We also nurture old friendships and make new professional relationships with colleagues whom we may one day count as friends, in no small part because we are all bound by our ties to Georgetown University and its Clinical Society.
Our Society gives those of us who have retired the chance to see familiar faces of old colleagues, and the stimulation of meeting newer members. It allows younger Georgetown physicians, residents, and medical students to rub shoulders with more established doctors, who can serve as role models and mentors as they begin forming or changing their medical career.
In the past few years, in fact, the Society has worked to strengthen its bonds with the Medical School. We have had a campaign to encourage young students and residents to come to our events. We lowered membership fees for students and young physicians. The result is that this year, for the first time in the history of our Society, we have medical student members—and we are hoping still more will join. Finally, and not least, for the past few years we have given out scholarships to two outstanding Georgetown medical students in their final year.
Far more than a highly enjoyable social club, the Georgetown Clinical Society also fulfills a key professional need. With insurance companies today dictating more and more where we should refer patients, the whole pattern of medical referrals and partnerships has changed. Yet physicians—as in any other profession—prefer to work with colleagues whose opinions and skills they value. Doctors need to feel free to share their experience and have informal consults with physicians they know and whose work they admire. In getting a select band of highly trained clinicians to spend time together, the GCS gives its members the opportunity to create just such professional networks.
The final point I want to touch on is that backbone of everything—money. A strong Society has to have financial backing, and each of us can contribute. We need to continue our internal fundraising efforts, such as last year’s silent auction, which raised enough money to fund our scholarship and operational expenses funds.
But to keep operating and achieve our goals, we will need more. I propose that we seek support from other sources that care about our medical mission and goals. Medical organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and manufactures of medical implants and devices—maybe even insurers—should be called upon to support this Society’s excellent work. I’m not talking about selling out to these companies, but rather suggesting that we build on the fact that we all share a common vision. Toward that end, Society members, our friends, acquaintances, and colleagues should make the effort to show potential backers the value of a Georgetown Clinical Society sponsorship. Their gift could reduce the cost of our meetings, increase our educational events, and make it possible for more physicians—particularly new physicians—to join.
To provide all that the Georgetown Clinical Society provides, however, we members have to stick together. To do that, we need to be able to connect. Which brings me back to the age of burgeoning social media and virtual connections. A few years ago we established a new website, a new system for mass emailing, a new logo, and new professional image. We joined Facebook and are gathering followers on Twitter. In short, while keeping up our standards regarding real human connections, we never stopped moving with the times. In my book, the Georgetown Clinical Society is a tremendous success, and we should have at least another 100 years to go.
Saeed Marefat, MD
January 16, 2015