December 2015


Congratulations to Drs. Cliff Titcomb and Paul Quartararo on a superb Triennial meeting in Colorado Springs.  The topics were enlightening and well-presented and the venue was spectacular.  It was positively energizing to network with old friends and meet the first time attendees, including a number of clinicians who have expressed interest in our unique profession.  I have no doubt that the first time attendees found our group to be welcoming and helpful.   In my 17+ years in this industry I have looked towards my industry colleagues who are active in AAIM as an ongoing source of training, advice and support, not only as I navigated my way through the unfamiliar waters early in my career but throughout my career.  The admiration that I have felt towards so many in this organization has led me to want to give back to it.  Serving as President for the coming year will provide me with another opportunity to do so.


The planning for the fall scientific meeting is underway.  Dr. Lisa Papazian will serve as program chair and she has assembled a panel of experienced program committee members.  The 2016 AAIM Annual Meeting is the 125th annual meeting …….a  big number and a meeting that will be held in a state that does everything big…….Texas.  The meeting is from September 24th – 28th, 2016 and will be held at The Westin Austin Downtown, a newly constructed hotel in the heart of Austin.  We will celebrate the 125 year history of AAIM in a city that has much to offer, including a vibrant live music scene, the LBJ Library and Museum, and some very clever “food-truck” neighborhoods. If you’re crazy about bats, you can watch the millions of Mexican Free-tailed Bats come out at night from their residence under the Congress Avenue Bridge to feed on insects.


Those of you who were able to join us in Colorado Springs heard some exciting news at the business meeting, namely the addition of 47 new members.  That’s double what it has trended over the past few years.   AAIM continues to face the same challenges it has had over the prior years, including stagnant revenue in the setting of a low interest environment and a dwindling membership even with the welcome bolus of the new members.  For comparison, the fall membership numbers for 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2015 are 441, 358, 333, and 295 respectively.  Industry contraction in the mid-2000s, the financial crisis of 2008, tighter budgets and the industry trend towards automaticity may have all played a role in shrinking insurance company medical risk selection departments and the greying of the medical director population.  We listened to the report of a survey of AAIM membership with the startling figure that 32% of AAIM members plan on retiring by 2020.  And we also heard the good news that 90% of members polled would recommend insurance medicine as a career to other physicians! The survey also revealed some concerns by the membership.  As a result, an ad hoc committee has been assembled to study the survey results and decide on how to address the issues and concerns raised in the survey.


I will echo the comments made by previous AAIM presidents about the importance not only of membership in AAIM but of participation in this wonderful organization.  The strength of AAIM lies in the capable hands and minds of its members and cannot survive without the volunteerism that has carried it forward for all of these 125 years.  Please reach out to me or any committee chairperson to inquire about a volunteer opportunity.  Take every opportunity you can to talk about our organization at your company and to call out the educational value of the annual meeting and the other services provided throughout the year [such as JIM and the educational webinars].  Ask for upper management support in membership and in attendance at the annual meeting.  Take the time to explain to them the difference between attending a local clinical conference in your home town vs. an industry focused conference designed for medical directors.  Be sure to explain to your management team how you use the skills gleaned at these industry meetings every day in your job and how that translates to the bottom line. A local clinical conference might be less expensive but money spent and no actionable skills acquired for our unique profession is still money [and time] wasted.  Just as you may spend time training underwriters about risk selection, please take the time to educate upper management about what it takes to become a highly skilled medical director and the value of AAIM in accomplishing that goal.   


AAIM is a remarkable professional organization and we should all be proud to be a part of it and determined to promote it!


Karen Blackstone , MD, DBIM
AAIM President 2015-2016



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