A Welcome to Ownership

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Please let me emphasize that if you've come to hear from a widely published researcher, chief executive officer of a national medical system, or president of multiple professional societies, you've ended up in the wrong hall, and I hope you're enjoying your lunch. If you have a few minutes to listen to some dude who is a generation older than most of you, has had some variety in his practice, and has volunteered a bit along the way, then thanks for staying.

To the entering class, including the new members who are elsewhere today—welcome and congratulations. We applaud you. You are bright, very well educated, and technologically advanced. You have passed multiple written and oral exams—hopefully without having to repeat many of them. You completed residency training years ago and have since been observed and reported on by employers, insurance companies, licensing boards, ward clerks, nurses, online rating services, social networking sites, and your peers. You have continued to study, documented your cases, paid fees, filled out forms, and become board certified. You have already proven yourselves to be well trained and able to apply your skills with professionalism. You've been checked out pretty well.

Such success deserves acknowledgment, and we enthusiastically congratulate you. But, as we know, “you” is both a singular and a plural pronoun. The “you” we're congratulating today includes your family, teachers, patients, fellow students, and so many more who in different ways have given a lot to you. Please share our congratulations for your success with them soon. You have a lot to give back.

As you well know, your testing is not over—maintenance of certification is required every 10 years. However, even more important tests happen every day as each of you cares for your patients, interacts with your community, and lives with your family. Evolving technology may change the way that you are tested and how your CME credits are recorded, but patient satisfaction and outcomes will be the true measure of value.

I'm an orthopaedic surgeon who has been in community practice for three decades, and then 3 years in a university-based academic practice, and now 8 months, 3 weeks, and 4 days in an administrative role. You've listened to lots of graduation speeches in the past—and maybe given a few yourselves. This is not to be another one. Instead, I offer words of welcome to you—a welcome to ownership—ownership of a new Academy membership card, a new type of ownership of your patients, and ownership of a well-balanced life.

Your Academy acceptance letter and membership card were mailed to you months ago—and you will receive an official certificate after the Annual Meeting. Ownership of your new card represents a major investment in education and training as well as sizable expenses during those years when cash was probably a bit tough to come by. This membership is both a great asset and a very wise investment in your career. Expect it to last a lifetime—if you remain a good cardholder and pay your dues.

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