Resources & Information

Feb 1 2011

Looking back with gratitude; Looking forward with anticipation

 Categories:  President’s Message Comments:   1 comment  Print Friendly Version  |   Share this item
Image for Looking back with gratitude; Looking forward with anticipation Most of you are probably familiar with the adage, “Behind every successful man is a strong woman.” Well, it’s not much different for a successful woman. I have been fortunate throughout my medical education, training and career to have had many strong women behind me, as colleagues, mentors, partners and friends. And while I can certainly name several men who have had a positive impact on my career, it is women who have been invaluable in shaping the person I am today.

Those who stand out in particular include Drs. Valya Visser, Darlyne Menscer, Docia Hickey and Mary Hall. These formidable physicians served as mentors during residency and revealed to me the unlimited potential for female physicians. In addition, Dr. Ophelia Garmon-Brown was my personal physician and my practice partner. Today she is my sounding board, my spiritual touchstone and a true sister. She is what I aspire to be when I grow up.

Dr. Elizabeth Kanof also deserves special mention. I met Dr. Kanof, a past president of both the North Carolina Medical Board and the North Carolina Medical Society, while participating in the NCMS Leadership College. She impressed upon me the importance of service and participation and, later, encouraged me to seek a seat on the NCMB.

When I began my first term a little over three years ago, I never dreamed I would be addressing you as president. I am excited and humbled at the opportunity, and grateful to my colleagues on the Board for their confidence in me. I am also proud to be just the fourth woman to serve as Board president (although I am the third in a decade, so the tide may be turning!).

My goals for this year are a blend of new initiatives and a continuation of those started by my predecessors. My aspirations are somewhat wide-ranging and I am not naïve enough to think the NCMB will accomplish all of them in a single year. However, working with my fellow Board members and the NCMB’s great staff, I know we can complete some, further others and get new ones off the ground.

Here are my main goals for the year:

The Board has worked in recent years to make its processes and policymaking procedures more open and inclusive. We will continue the initiatives of our immediate past president, Dr. Donald Jablonski, to illuminate the Board’s work, both for the profession and for the public. Specific examples of recent progress include adopting administrative rules that clarify and simplify the Board’s licensure process, as well as rules that provide more information to licensees about the Board’s disciplinary processes. A related initiative has focused on increasing participation and input into the Board’s policy work. This has involved the use of special task forces or committees to tackle specific subjects, including physician advertising of board certifications and physician scope of practice.

Underlying most complaints the Board reviews is poor communication between physicians and patients or poor communication among physicians and other health care practitioners. The Board will build on the work started by Dr. George Saunders, Board president in 2009, to identify and promote relatively low-cost, in-state courses designed to help physicians improve their communication skills. (Please see the column on communication among health care practitioners by Dr. Scott Kirby, NCMB Medical Director)

Maintenance of licensure ( MOL)
If you are not familiar with this term yet, you will be soon. Dr. Janelle Rhyne, Board president in 2008, current Chair-Elect of the Federation of State Medical Boards and another woman I am proud to count as a mentor, is working at both the state and national level on MOL, which involves setting standards for ensuring the continued competence of physicians. The NCMB will work with Dr. Rhyne to ensure that North Carolina is at the forefront of setting standards that do not impose onerous burdens on physicians or compromise the quality care our patients deserve.

Raise licensee awareness of NCPHP
The NC Physicians Health Program is an invaluable resource for licensees dealing with alcohol/substance dependency or addiction, mental health issues or other behavioral issues. As a member of the Board’s NCPHP Committee for the past three years, I have witnessed firsthand the value of this program—for licensees, the public and the Board. The Board has an interest in helping licensees function at a high level and seeks to provide appropriate guidance and assistance whenever possible. Anyone struggling with the above issues should know that there is professional, confidential help available to them through NCPHP.

Raise public awareness of the NCMB
In order to effectively regulate the practice of medicine, we rely heavily on the public to let us know when they have concerns regarding a licensee. However, research and experience tells us that most North Carolinians are unaware of the NCMB. Those who know it exists have only the vaguest notion of what the Board does. You’ll see the Board active on many fronts to change this. You may even see the NCMB make its debut on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Educate licensees and the public on appropriate pain management, including the use of the NC Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS)
Abuse of, addiction to and deaths due to unintentional overdose of prescription drugs are growing problems. The CSRS is a very useful tool in preventing diversion, allowing physicians to track narcotic prescriptions filled by patients. The Board will continue to work with the legislature to make the CSRS a more user-friendly system, without compromising individual privacy. Learn more about CSRS.

Too ambitious? I think not. I am blessed with extremely hardworking, dedicated colleagues on the Board. I have a wonderful staff to rely on. And, most important, I have an unlimited supply of colleagues who practice compassionate medicine every day who will be there when I call on them for assistance.

In fact, I’d like to enlist my fellow female physicians’ help in achieving one final goal that is close to my heart: to secure engaged mentors for every female medical student, resident or partner who wants one. The need has never been greater, with women making up about 47 percent of current medical students. I urge all of my female colleagues to be mentors and role models in any way they can. You never know—that shy resident who speaks a little too quickly for “Southern ears” may just go on to be NCMB president!

I look forward to a very rewarding and fruitful year.

Janice E. Huff , MD — Board president
Interesting facts about your new Board president

City: Charlotte
Term ends: October 31, 2013
Specialty: Family Medicine
Certification: American Board of Family Medicine
Practice: Part-time at Presbyterian Urgent Care and Mecklenburg Health Care Center
Faculty Appointments: Clinical instructor in family medicine at UNC-CH; part-time faculty of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Carolinas Medical Center
Facts: Appointed to the Board in 2007; the 111th president of the Board; the fourth female to serve as president

 Comments on this article:

What a wonderfully positive message you have sent to fellow doctors. Thank you for bringing such enthusiasm to your position and for acknowledging the contributions of female physicians.

By Kendall Garing, MD on Feb 05, 2011 at 4:11pm
 Post a comment on this article
Please do not include links to external websites in your comment. Please limit comments to no more than 300 words. The NCMB reserves the right to edit comments to meet the length limit. Abusive or profane remarks and personal attacks will not be published. The editor will make every effort to review and post comments in a timely fashion.