An Interview with Patricia W. Finn, MD, ATS President-Elect

An interview with Patricia W. Finn, MD, ATS President-Elect.

An interview with Patricia W. Finn, MD, ATS President-Elect.

Q&A: ATS 2013-14 President Patricia W. Finn, MD

Q: Your agenda for the coming year will focus on health equality. Can you briefly describe this concept and how the Society might address it?
A: I would describe my leadership style as collegial and collaborative. As such, I would like to call on the members for input in tac-kling the very broad issue of health equality, to which I feel passionately and personally connected. Each of the assemblies and committees will receive one common charge for the year: How can your assembly or committee address the issue of health equality? From clinical practice to respiratory cell and molecular biology, we all can play a part and have a voice. I am asking the assemblies and committees to propose a project or deliverable at the ATS Summit in September and an update on that project at the Board of Directors meeting in March 2014. In addition, I have convened a subcommittee on health equality under the Health Policy Committee, which will be a standing committee of members passionate about this topic and committed to making a difference. I look forward to engaging in a conversation with the whole ATS organization around this topic in the coming year.

Q: What are some of your other goals for the Society for the coming year?
A: My goals for the year can be summed up in a short acronym: AIR.

  • A—Advocacy. In addition to a focus on health equality, I am interested in the idea of engaging the next generation in lung health. Thinking of the Peace Corps or Teach for America as models, I envision a “lung corps” of students at the high school, undergraduate, and graduate level who are interested in advocating for lung health. I welcome input and ideas!
  • I—Informatics/Information Technology/Implementation Medicine. I believe we must leverage the technology available to us and engage in emerging fields such as informatics and “omics.” In addition, I would extend the ATS implementation medicine initiative spearheaded by my predecessor, Monica Kraft, MD.
  • R—Research. Support for scholarly activity is a cornerstone of ATS. In these times of financial difficulty at the National Institutes of Health as well as throughout the country, we must do what we can to foster continued investigation in lung health. Our next generation of investigators is particularly vulnerable, and I am pleased that the ATS Foundation will offer an additional seven unrestricted awards to meritorious early career investigators this year.

Q: You were also among those lobbying Congress members during ATS Hill Day 2013. How might the ATS further strengthen its advocacy efforts?
A: Every year I look forward to the excitement of the ATS Hill Day and meeting with the policymakers. Hill Day is a wonderful event, and I encourage all members to participate at some point. If you have never lobbied before, no worries! The ATS Washington Office does a great job organizing and preparing participants. If you have the time, passion, and want to help, we need your voice. If you cannot make it to Washington, you can call and write to your representatives.

Q: You’ve served in many ATS committees before becoming an officer. What is it that attracted you to leadership positions in the Society?
A: As a trainee, ATS afforded me the opportunity to make a difference in a collegial and outstanding professional society. Regardless of your passion (patient care, scholarly activity, education) there is a place for you. Working toward ATS goals is rewarding and compelling. Serving in leadership positions gives me a chance to pay back the ATS.

Q: As the chairman of the department of medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago, an active clinician, researcher, and educator, as well as a leader of a 15,000-member medical society, how do you maintain a proper work-life balance?
A: Yoga. I started practicing yoga a few years ago when I found I needed a way to keep everything in perspective, and now I make time to practice yoga with my daughter. I also enjoy long walks in Grant Park with my husband and collaborator, David Perkins, MD, and our two poodles. Since moving to Chicago from San Diego last year, we have enjoyed exploring the museums, restaurants, and sports in the city.