This column is my first as President of the USBJI and I would like to start by acknowledging the outstanding work of my predecessor Steve Gnatz. Steve did a wonderful job as President. He clearly “got it” with respect to the goals of our organization and the opportunities for the future. Perhaps his perspective was shaped by his profession in the practice of physical medicine and rehabilitation. Steve’s accomplishments were more mental than physical and he had a rich supply of ideas on how to amalgamate the organizations that comprise USBJI into a more cohesive and effective union. Rather than rehabilitate, he created and innovated. I feel lucky to have worked closely with Steve and learn from his experience.
Just as Steve may have been shaped by his specialty, so I have been shaped by rheumatology and why I am so enthusiastic about the USBJI. While rheumatology is called a medical subspecialty, it differs from most others in the diversity of clinical problems which historically have been part of its purview. It is sometimes hard to know why rheumatologists are main providers of care for so many disparate conditions that, in addition of afflictions of the bones and joints, involve the eyes, the gut, the heart and the lung among others.
To be successful as a rheumatologist, it is essential to be a team player and reach out to colleagues in other medical and surgical fields to care for patients. Rheumatologists do not like silos. We like to interact and cooperate and welcome (and often desperately need!) the involvement of others. While many healthcare providers no doubt feel the same about their field, I like to think that the rheumatologist’s drive to collaborate with other providers is one of our distinguishing features. We also like complex problems and can live with ambiguity, also good traits in today’s rapidly changing health care system.
While the USBJI is an organization of organizations committed to improving the care of patients with musculoskeletal disease, actualizing and operationalizing this goal are not easy. Silos exist because people like them. They are warm places and provide a safe and protected environment. USBJI’s main challenge is “desilofication” in the care of patients with musculoskeletal disease. In actual practice, a main reason boundaries break down is catastrophe, a situation so dire that team work is essential to save the patient. In the setting of chronic disease where many of us usually spend our time-our colleagues the trauma surgeons are an obvious exception-teams can be hard to assemble and are easy to come apart, leaving the silos still standing.
As President of USBJI, one of my main goals will be to encourage greater interaction among our constituent organizations to promote interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary care for musculoskeletal disease. An important first step will be the creation of a new meeting format which will build upon the very successful Summits of the past. Scheduled for the Fall of 2016, this meeting will have as its focus implementation of interdisciplinary musculoskeletal care and will bring together providers from the many different disciplines represented in the USBJI into an exciting program of lectures, workshops and poster sessions. Not only will this meeting provide a strong outreach to providers of musculoskeletal care, its development will provide an important opportunity for the USBJI to define more clearly our mission and strengthen the bonds between members.
For those of you in the USBJI, I would like to ask each you to frame answers to two questions. What do you need from other organizations in the USBJI and, correspondingly, what can you provide for them? Answering these questions should take some time and thought but it will be an important way to strengthen communication in the USBJI and to build our organization into the national leader in interdisciplinary musculoskeletal care.