To address the challenges and changes facing organized medicine, the College has defined six major goals. Four are described in detail. In brief, the ACP’s goals are to:

  • promote standards and ethical ideals
  • provide information and education
  • advocate positions on health and public policy
  • serve the needs of members and stimulate interest in internal medicine as a career
  • conduct research, provide education, and promote internal medicine
  • recognize the excellence of individuals and their contributions

Promoting Standards and Ethical Ideals

In an effort to establish standards and ethical ideals, the College publishes from five to 10 new evidence-based guidelines each year. These guidelines follow a rigorous development process, which the Clinical Efficacy Assessment Subcommittee and the staff of the Scientific Policy Department oversee.
One major issue today concerns how these guidelines are actually implemented in clinical practice. The Institute of Medicine’s now-famous reports, To Err is Human and Crossing the Quality Chasm? as well as the news media’s questioning the safety of patient care in the U.S., have led to increased demands for accountability in the health care system. However, although performance measures used by health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and other third-party payers are rapidly proliferating, few physicians in the outpatient setting are ready for them. To address this issue, the College has adopted policies to assess the validity of guidelines-based performance measures intended to evaluate the quality of patient care.

Professionalism is a key tenet of medical societies, and ACP is no exception. The American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, the ACP-ASIM Foundation, and the European Federation of Internal Medicine recently produced the Charter on Medical Professionalism. Published simultaneously last year in Annals of Internal Medicine and The Lancet, the Charter was intended to reinforce many challenges facing the practice of medicine in 2003. The Charter consists of a set of principles that are fundamental to practicing medicine. First and foremost is the primacy of patients’ welfare, which asserts that the interests of patients take precedence over those of physicians. Many medical societies have adopted the Charter, and academic medical centers around the country have included it in their teaching curricula.
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ACP also publishes the Ethics Manual, the philosophical basis of the College’s stance on moral values and professionalism. This publication addresses current issues, such as the changing practice environment, alternative and complementary medicine, and genetic testing, as well as ongoing issues, such as informed consent, confidentiality of medical records, and end-of-life care. A section on ethical decision-making in clinical practice and medical research guides physicians through the process of resolving ethical dilemmas.

Providing Comprehensive Education and Information

In an effort to serve as the comprehensive education and information resource for internists, ACP sponsors continuing medical education programs for physicians, including the Annual Session, the Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program, the Clinical Skills Program, and more than 50 postgraduate courses annually.

Other resources available to ACP members include the Physicians’ Information and Education Resource (PIER). PIER, which has been in development for eight years, is an evidence-based clinical decision support tool designed to provide physicians with guidance to improve clinical practice; it encompasses diagnosis and treatment prevention and screening, and drug selection and dosages. Available on the Internet, PIER provides physician-members with quick access to more than 270 disease-specific modules.

The College’s flagship medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, the most widely read internal medicine journal and the most widely cited medical specialty journal in the world, covers issues that influence both physicians and patients. canadian antibiotics

Other ACP publications include ACP Journal Club, The ACP Observer, and IMpact, a quarterly newsletter devoted to medical students.