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From the President: Thank you, and goodbye

Image for From the President: Thank you, and goodbye I would never have predicted that a year could feel so short and so long all at once. It seems like just a few weeks ago that I began my term as Board President. At the same time, it is hard for me to fathom all that has happened in the world and in medicine in the past several months.

And yet, here we are in September and it is time for me to say goodbye and thank you as I end not just my year as NCMB President but also my six years of service with this organization.

It is a vast understatement to say that that my term as Board President played out nothing as I imagined it would.

The onset of the novel coronavirus caught NCMB by surprise, as it did all individuals and organizations, and made it necessary to quickly recalibrate to function in a global pandemic.

There are not sufficient words to describe how very proud I am of NCMB’s staff and Board Members for all that has been accomplished in recent months. Since the declaration of a state of emergency in North Carolina in March, we have risen again and again to meet what would have seemed unsurmountable challenges, had we contemplated them in January or February.

Some key accomplishments related to the pandemic:

• Virtually all NCMB staff shifted to full time telecommuting, with almost no notice. Pre-COVID, NCMB allowed limited telecommuting (up to two days a week), with less than half of the staff participating. Despite many challenges in converting to work-from-home, NCMB’s licensing and regulatory work continued without interruption.

• NCMB took numerous actions to ease barriers to licensure and practice for clinicians helping with the state’s pandemic response and established a new type of emergency temporary license to allow retirees who recently inactivated a North Carolina license to quickly resume practice. In addition, NCMB received a huge influx of applications for emergency temporary licenses for providers licensed outside of North Carolina (including many providers seeking to provide care via telemedicine to North Carolina patients). Since March, NCMB’s licensing staff has issued more than 1,900 emergency temporary licenses. This is on top of NCMB’s typical volume of resident, physician and PA license application.

• NCMB converted, for the first time ever, to a 100 percent virtual format for its bimonthly Board Meeting. Investigative and licensing interviews, as well as committee meetings, presentations and trainings, were all handled online using videoconferencing technology. Open session agenda items are available to the public, who are provided with call-in information via the meeting agenda posted online. A full Board Meeting is a complex multi-day event with dozens of individual participants. The logistics are mind-boggling. Yet NCMB’s staff have made it happen three times since May and will continue to host virtual meetings until the Board determines it is safe to resume in-person meetings. Find the September Board Meeting agenda here.

Finally, as I reflect on the end of my six years of service with NCMB I can honestly say that it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my professional career. If you have an interest, and the flexibility to balance regulatory work with your practice and other I highly recommend applying to serve as a Board Member. Personally, I feel that my time on the Board has made me more thoughtful and deliberate as a physician, which I know has improved the care I provide to patients.

Truly, it has been an honor and a pleasure.