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Openning speech

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  • Openning speech

    Russian American Medical Association

    The 1st National Conference

    The Goals and the Future of R-AMA

    Dear distinguished doctor Muenster!
    Dear colleagues, guests and family members!

    It is truly an honor and a privilege for me to speak at the opening of the First National Conference of the Russian American Medical Association. This meeting is a culmination of efforts of many people who worked for almost two years to bring us together.

    First and foremost, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in organization of this Conference: doctors Natalia Eidlin, Julia Frantsuzov, Vladimir Burdjalov, Izold Malament and George Muenster. I would like to say very special words of gratitude to Irina Malament and my wife – Irina for their understanding and help in preparation of this meeting.

    I would like to thank the Administration of the Lake Hospital System for the opportunity to hold this Conference here. We are greatly honored to have Dr. Ted Nichols – the Vice-President of the LHS and Dr. Dan Cudnik – the Chief of Stuff of the LWH here in this audience. I am pleased to inform you that this session will be certified for a Category II CME credit. We are very grateful to Dr. Pazirandeh and Ms. Margaret McIntyre from the Committee on Education of the Lake Hospital System for their hard work and dedication in obtaining CME credits. Please be sure to take credit for the topics you attend.

    It was a privilege to work together with the OSMA and the LCMS during the organization of this event and I would like to welcome Dr. Steven Combs – the President of the Ohio State Medical Association and Dr. Lisa Davis – the President-elect of the Lake County Medical Society who are also here in the audience today.

    I would like to cordially thank our sponsors from Astra Zeneca, US Surgical and Endo, Inc. - for without their support this Conference would not have been possible.

    I want to say words of appreciation to reporters from News Herald the newspaper from Lake County, and two Russian papers Prospect and especially Russian Magazine, which will provide not only text but radio and Russian national TV coverage also.

    I would like to mention the name of Ivan Alpatov, MD who single-handedly built the web site for the Association. It would be hard to find a more dedicated person, who learned web programming just for that only reason.

    It is great that despite all this snow all of us got here today in one piece. Just the fact that we have about 50 people from 8 states in this room makes me happy.

    The Purpose of the Conference:
    The main purpose of this Conference is the establishment of R-AMA’s official status and the declaration of its goals, election of the governing body and discussion of main issues troubling American medicine presently as well as a several current clinical issues.

    Original idea:
    Russian American Medical Association was formed on the 15th of May of 2002 in the city of Toledo by doctors Alex Senchenkov, Andrew Kriegel and me for the purpose of uniting Russian medical professionals who live and work in the United States and Canada. It was established as a non-profit charitable organization and incorporated in accordance with laws of the State of Ohio, and registered with the Office of the Secretary of State. During next few months the Association received its tax ID, the bank and credit accounts. We started to attract new members. In October of 2002 the first version of the web site of the Association was published on the Internet and the e-mail service was started. I can tell you a lot more from the history of the Association, but the time is short and we should move on.

    I would like to alleviate certain fears and explain the terminology of R-AMA. When I say – Russian – I mean all people from the territory of the former Soviet Union, and more - everyone who speaks Russian language and considers himself to be of Russian heritage. When I say – medical professional – I mean all people involved in different aspects of health care, including doctors who came to the United States but have chosen to work in a field other than clinical medicine, for example research. Please, refer to the By-laws of the Association provided in your folder for the details of the governing rules of R-AMA, information about membership etc.

    At the moment the Association has 89 active members from 20 states of the Nation and from 3 other countries – Russia, Canada and South Africa. The majority of members of the Association are physicians – 48 (26 practicing and 22 in residency training programs), 1 dentist, 12 researchers, 14 students, 5 nurses and medical professionals in other fields and 1 businessman. Majority of physician-members are surgeons – 17, 10 – Internal Medicine and Family Practice, 5 pediatricians, 4 psychiatrists, 3 – obstetricians and 8 from other fields of medicine.

    When we first formed the Association, our original goal was to help people who just came to this country and are trying to get through the hurdles of the examinations and licensing, but it is clear now that the goals of the Association are much wider and more numerous.

    Broadly defined – the first and the most important goal of the Association is achievement of ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. Clinical education is an extremely important part of life for every medical professional and we plan to promote and support this education through conferences that include topics encompassing all aspects of medical care and provide state-of-the-art medical information to all participants. All R-AMA conferences with the exception of this one will have clinical orientation and will give members CME credits.

    Supporting basic and clinical research and helping members to obtain grants for that research is one of the ways to advance the interests of R-AMA.

    The Association considers it extremely important that each member at every level of training achieves his academic goals, starting with the USMLE and TOEFL examinations prior to residency, In-Service examinations during residency and Board exams after entering practice. We also plan to establish a Mentorship/Observership Program, which will connect physicians seeking American medical experience prior to entering residency with interested practicing physicians.

    We will create the R-AMA Medical Students and Residents Section (MSR). Helping Russian students to get a chance to study in the United States and helping American students to do the same in Russia by providing connections and information is one of our goals.

    The second major goal of the Association is HUMANITARIAN. Helping to train Russian doctors, organizing medical and educational missions to Russia is one of the ways to achieve it. Scientific and clinical seminars, hands-on training in Russia and observership for Russian doctors in the United States will be organized. Donations of medications, medical supplies and equipment have been done already and will continue.

    Helping Russian patients in America is another goal. It will work both ways – we help them to find Russian-speaking physicians in different states and we will help each other to expand our referral base. The web site of the Association allows us to create a database of doctors categorized by location and specialty that will be accessible and searchable.

    Helping Russian patients in Russia may be even more important. I just came back from the three week trip to Yaroslavl, my home town and let me tell you, despite all the good changes that happen there, the state of Russian medicine is catastrophic. Many people with incurable by Russian standards illnesses can be successfully treated here and one of the examples of this is Ivan Malkov, a 5-year old boy with the Bing-Taussig anomaly (double outlet right ventricle) who with our help is being properly treated at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His operation was successfully performed last Wednesday by Dr. Edward Bove – world’s finest pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon.

    To accomplish all of this we will establish R-AMA Charitable Foundation. It will raise funds for a physician fellowship program that will bring research and clinical fellows from Russia to the US, as well as raise funds and establish scholarship funds for Russian American Medical Students.

    If we give people a chance to donate - they will.

    Cooperation with Russian Ministry of Health and Russian Embassy in the United States will be very helpful here.

    The third major goal of R-AMA is REPRESENTATION. R-AMA will be working to support its members at all levels of American medical community through participation in local and national medical organizations. We are already invited to membership in most of the 55 ethnic medical associations currently functioning in the United States, presidents of two of them – Iranian and Syrian are associated members of R-AMA and are in this audience at the moment.

    After we fulfill certain requirements, R-AMA will be eligible to send its representative to the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates.

    Another very important goal is the one that many of us learned in Russia – it is “svyazi” – NETWORKING. I do not think I have to describe it in too much of a detail.

    Charitable work:
    Each member of R-AMA across the country dedicates countless hours to various charitable endeavors. While each of these projects are important in their own right, every year a project will be chosen in which R-AMA can have far reaching effects across the country. We suggest to designate the year of 2004 as the year of "Heart Disease Awareness in Russians" as our National Service Project. Several studies in recent years have shown that Russians living in the West have a higher mortality and morbidity from Heart Disease than the general population. The goal of this project is three-fold. The first is the promotion of awareness via local health fairs and seminars around the country for the purpose of screening and disseminating knowledge developed specifically for Russians. The second is the education of healthcare professionals in seminars and meetings. Third is the promotion of research opportunities that are available in this field. In particular, research that is funded by R-AMA's Heart Disease In Russians (HDIR) Grant. We are currently in the development phase of this project and are working with the interested pharmaceutical companies, and are looking for sponsorship. We need volunteers to help develop, or identify existing pamphlets, as well as help develop a database of web sites and literature pertaining to heart disease in Russians. It is our goal to distribute this information in multiple health fairs and seminars around the country beginning in 2004. If you would like to help, or for more information, please contact us at info ñîáàêà russiandoctors òî÷êà org.

    I would like to underline the fact that our Association is not a political organization.

    We consider democratic principles to be of the paramount importance in the functioning of the Association. R-AMA has no intention of “enslaving” any group of physicians in different states of the Nation. We would like to expand and incorporate regional chapters, which should be independent in their activity and decision-making. State chapter President or representative will help coordinate our work.

    Our finances come from three main sources: sponsoring drug companies and medical equipment manufacturing companies, membership fees and fees from present and future Association conferences and other activities. A financial report will be presented to members at the each annual Conference.

    Welcoming words came from many Ethnic American Medical Associations. Most people could not come for this Conference but plan to attend one next year.

    Thank you very much for your attention. I hope that each one of us will find his place in the Association. R-AMA’s life is a work in progress – if we will see an interesting project we will work on it. Each one of us has personal goals, and if our Association will help people in realization of his goals, we would consider our grand task accomplished.

    Thank you and “Long live R-AMA!”

    Tiptoeing through the minefield without a minesweeper...