This month, Jack Ende, M’73, concludes his yearlong tenure as president of the American College of Physicians, the nation’s largest medical specialty organization.
Over the past year, Jack Ende, M’73, has found himself amidst debates over subjects from A1C guidelines to gun control. But that didn’t come as a surprise; as president of the American College of Physicians, it’s his job to explain the college’s stance on many issues.
“What makes it worthwhile is that the college takes positions based upon evidence. When we publish a guideline or take a position on socioeconomic determinants of health, gun violence, climate change or other topics, these are well-researched positions that one can comfortably stand behind. There’s always controversy and you must be prepared for that, but these are positions that are worth making public. It’s an honor to be the spokesman.”
Serving as ACP president for 2017-18 has been a high point in a distinguished career. “You get a perspective on these sorts of issues and you appreciate how important the physician’s voice is. All physicians are agents for their patients, some become advocates and some even become activists.”
When he’s not leading the nation’s largest medical specialty organization (with 152,000 members, it’s also the second-largest physician group), Ende is the Schaeffer Professor of Medicine and assistant dean for advanced medical practice at the Perelman School of Medicine at The University of Pennsylvania. He’s also executive medical director for Penn Signature Services, Penn Medicine’s line of programs that coordinate provision of medical services to international patients. He has received numerous teaching awards, including several at the national level.
“He is one of the international greats in medical education. We all quote from his works; his 1983 article ‘Feedback in Clinical Education,’ is in my back pocket at all times,” says Stephanie Call, M.D., professor in VCU’s Department of Internal Medicine and program director of its training program.
Ende didn’t necessarily see a future for himself as an activist during medical school, but his commitment to the profession spurred him to seek an active role in the ACP, where he rose through the ranks before assuming the top job.
Hot-button topics during his tenure included firearm violence after events in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 and ensuring health care for Americans.
“The college has very strong policies on access to care, is a strong proponent of extending Medicaid services and making sure that everybody has access to mental health care – the kind of medical care that our nation deserves,” Ende says. “When there were threats, the college got involved.” One thing they did was to join other medical organizations and send each group’s president to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators.
And while the College looks at timely external social determinants, it’s also examining itself internally to ensure gender and thought diversity among its members.
The ACP involves itself with issues in the U.S., but Ende was pleased to find many of the college’s concerns and platforms embraced by other medical societies such as the European Federation of Internal Medicine. The ACP has 18 chapters outside the U.S., and he’s visited quite a few. “It’s been a year filled with travel, and that’s been part of the excitement.”
Ende and Call will travel to Brazil this spring to lead a faculty development program for medical educators there. “It’s a real privilege that he asked me to help run this program,” says Call, who is associate chair for education in the Department of Internal Medicine.
After he hands over the gavel to the college’s next president in April, Ende looks forward to continuing work that’s been especially important to him over the years. One is developing a program of rounding on patients to emphasize the importance of bedside diagnosis and teaching. “We have to work hard to make sure we don’t lose what’s important in medicine.”
By Lisa Crutchfield