The American College of Physicians (ACP) is a national organization of internists — physicians who specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illnesses in adults. Internists are major providers of primary care in the United States. They are especially well-trained in the diagnosis of puzzling medical problems, in the ongoing care of complicated illnesses, and in caring for patients with more than one disease. Internists not only treat disease but also coordinate health care and play a critical role in preventing disease and promoting health and well-being.
History and Mission
The ACP mission is to enhance the quality and effectiveness of health care by fostering excellence and professionalism in the practice of medicine. ACP was founded in 1915 to promote the science and practice of medicine. In 1998, ACP merged with the American Society of Internal Medicine (ASIM), which was established in 1956 to study economic aspects of medicine.
With 129,000 members, ACP is the largest medical specialty organization and second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP provides information and advocacy for its members as they practice internal medicine and related subspecialties such as cardiology and gastroenterology. ACP members are also involved in medical education, research, and administration.
Levels of ACP membership are Medical Student, Associate, Member, Fellow ("FACP"), Honorary Fellow, and Master ("MACP"). Fellowship and Mastership recognize achievements in internal medicine. Masters are selected for outstanding contributions to medicine.
Internists and Subspecialists
An M.D. or D.O. who completes a three-year internal medicine residency program is an internist. The general internist is an expert in the general care of the adult but also may have special areas of expertise. A subspecialty internist is an internist with one to three years of additional training in a particular organ (nephrology/kidney), system (endocrinology/glands), or age group (geriatrics). Some internists practice a combination of both general and subspecialty medicine.
Annals of Internal Medicine, published twice-monthly, is one of the top medical journals in the world. ACP Journal Club, published monthly with Annals, summarizes the most important medical articles from more than 100 journals. ACP Internist is an award-winning semi-monthly newspaper for internists, while ACP Hospitalist is written for those in hospital practice. ACP Medicine is a continually updated reference for internal medicine.
The ACP Washington, D.C., office monitors and responds to policy issues that affect public health and the practice of medicine. Activities include development of policy statements and communication with legislative and administrative sectors of government.
The Center for Ethics and Professionalism seeks to advance physician and public understanding of ethics and professionalism issues in the practice of medicine, in order to enhance patient care by promoting the highest ethical standards. The ACP Foundation, working with internists, health literacy and communication experts, creates innovative health information tools to help patients better understand and manage their health.
Education and Information Resources
ACP supports the optimal practice of medicine by providing opportunities for continuing medical education. ACP medical education programs include its annual scientific meeting, Internal Medicine 2009, being held in Philadelphia April 23-25. Internal Medicine 2010 will be held in Toronto April 22-24; and Internal Medicine 2011 will be held April 7-9 in San Diego.
ACP’s Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program (MKSAP), gives internists an opportunity to test their knowledge and compare their results with national averages. In addition, ACP offers postgraduate board review courses; recertification courses; and chapter/regional meetings. For future internists, ACP provides education and career information, produces MKSAP for Students, and administers an In-Training Examination for residents.
ACP Electronic information resources include PIER (Physicians’ Information and Education Resource), a Web-based decision-support tool. Other electronic resources include a Diabetes Portal, a COPD Portal, a PDA Portal, and Clinical Skills Teaching Modules.
The Center for Practice Improvement and Innovation helps internal medicine practices achieve quality performance while succeeding in today's health care environment. The Center offers practical written guides, practice management tools, and personalized advice. The Medical Laboratory Evaluation Program (MLE) offers proficiency testing for laboratories in the United States and abroad.
ACP provides patient education brochures and DVDs for physicians who wish to raise awareness and educate their patients and communities.
ACP is governed by an elected Board of Regents. The Board is advised by a network of ACP committees and by the ACP Board of Governors, which is composed of elected Governors in chapters and regions of the United States, Canada, Central and South America, and Japan. ACP sponsors the Council of Subspecialty Societies, which represents 25 subspecialty societies and internal medicine organizations. ACP is represented in the American Medical Association, the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, and other organizations.
Officer and Staff Spokespersons
*FACP becomes MACP as of 4/22/10
**to take office as 2010-2011 President and Chair, Board of Regents, 4/24/10
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About the American College of Physicians