ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The year was 1991.
NBC’s “Cheers” was the highest-rated show on television. The highest-grossing film was “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” Grunge and alternative rock dominated radio airwaves. Led by then-President George H.W. Bush, the U.S. military and a United Nations Coalition of more than 30 countries liberated Kuwait from Iraqi forces in the 40-day Persian Gulf War. The Soviet Union was dissolved, effectively leading to the collapse of the Communist Party. And, on August 6, the World Wide Web went live to the world...with little fanfare – and the release of the Apple iPhone was still 16 years away.
And it was amidst these changing times and somewhat tumultuous backdrop that the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) was born.
Twenty-five years ago, much was different in the U.S. medical field as well, particularly within the highly specialized discipline of clinical endocrinology. At the time, no organization provided an opportunity for colleagues to interface about the dramatic improvements in endocrinology diagnostics and other relevant advances. Physicians in the sub-specialty had little-to-no input into the decision-making of the Health Care Financing Administration (HCFA), the federal government behemoth responsible for protecting Americans’ through enforcement of health and safety standards. Nor did they have representation as a sub-specialty in the vital healthcare policymaking bodies of the country’s physician organizations.
In a watershed moment in time, a small group of determined physicians – dubbed the “Florida Four” – set out to change that, soliciting 26 esteemed colleagues from across the country to join a steering committee tasked with creating an avenue for clinical endocrinologists to collectively examine scientific, economic and political aspects of the specialty in order to maintain the highest levels of patient care and standards of medical practice.
The need for such an organization was evidenced by AACE’s immediate success: in the organization’s first year alone, 1,162 membership applications were received. Today, with more than 7,000 members and 37 chapters – of which 15 are located internationally – AACE is celebrating its silver anniversary with a look back at some of its more notable achievements during the last two-and-a-half decades.
- Publication of clinical care guidelines and algorithms
Key among AACE’s accomplishments is the creation and publication of ground-breaking, comprehensive clinical care guidelines and algorithms to assist healthcare professionals in medical decision-making. The conditions reported on over the years have included diabetes mellitus, obesity, perioperative care of the bariatric patient, menopause, thyroid cancer, hypogonadism, dietary supplements and nutraceuticals, growth hormone use, post-menopausal osteoporosis and many, many more.
- Physician training
A depth and breadth of programs have been created by AACE to advance physicians’ skills, including Endocrine University™, a comprehensive, week-long program held annually since 2002 to prepare final-year fellows for entering clinical practice by enhancing their clinical endocrinology knowledge in a number of practice areas; Endocrine Certification in Neck Ultrasound (ECNU) for physicians who perform thyroid and parathyroid disorders evaluations through diagnostic ultrasound and ultrasound-guided fine needle aspiration (UGFNA); and a variety of meetings and workshops held throughout the year to advance clinical skills for allied healthcare professionals.
- Legislative and advocacy efforts
AACE also has been involved with representing patients in the legislative arena, conducting spring congressional visitations every year since 1999. AACE advocacy efforts have resulted in the introduction of the National Diabetes Clinical Care Commission Act, legislation to improve the quality of diabetes clinical care and improve the coordination of federal diabetes activities. Its collaboration with other medical specialty societies has resulted in the introduction of The Medicare CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitoring) Access Act to improve Medicare patients’ CGM coverage and the Increasing Access to Osteoporosis Testing for Medicare Beneficiaries Act.
In 2011, AACE took the lead in recognizing obesity as a disease, officially stating its position publicly in an effort to pave the way for more therapies and treatments for Americans suffering from the condition. Two years later, following AACE’s lead, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates officially declared obesity a disease.
- Patient Education Programs
In 2003, the scientific, educational and charitable arm of AACE—the American College of Endocrinology (ACE)—launched the EmPower® patient engagement program to increase awareness of endocrine-related diseases and conditions, symptoms, treatment options and tips for a healthier lifestyle. The umbrella under which all patient education programs reside, the EmPower™ programs include a 32-page, quarterly, patient magazine – EmPower Magazine and accompanying website; an annual thyroid awareness campaign; Blood Sugar Basics, which teaches patients and their families how to set and attain blood sugar goals; the My Diabetes Emergency Plan, a website and comprehensive printed checklist of essential items needed to be assembled to help people with diabetes prepare in advance of emergency situations; and Get To The Heart Of It, an online resource where visitors can calculate their LCL cholesterol-related risk for heart disease.
“During the process of building AACE and ACE programs and activities over the past 25 years, the common denominator has been a vast team of dedicated individuals who have voluntarily invested countless hours of time and expertise to ensure patient care was continually advancing and improving,” said 2015-2016 AACE President Dr. George Grunberger, FACP, FACE. “To think that when we began this organization, we only had two drugs to treat type 2 diabetes and now we have 12 classes – not 12 drugs – approved for treatment, is astonishing.”
“I’m exceedingly proud to be a part of an organization working so diligently to further the practice of endocrinology,” Dr. Grunberger added. “It will be exciting to see how AACE enhances patient care, education and clinical research in the years to come.”
About the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE)
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) represents more than 7,000 endocrinologists in the United States and abroad. AACE is the largest association of clinical endocrinologists in the world. The majority of AACE members are certified in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism and concentrate on the treatment of patients with endocrine and metabolic disorders including diabetes, thyroid disorders, osteoporosis, growth hormone deficiency, cholesterol disorders, hypertension and obesity. Visit our site at www.aace.com.
About the American College of Endocrinology (ACE)
The American College of Endocrinology (ACE) is the educational and scientific arm of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). ACE is the leader in advancing the care and prevention of endocrine and metabolic disorders by: providing professional education and reliable public health information; recognizing excellence in education, research and service; promoting clinical research and defining the future of Clinical Endocrinology. For more information, visit www.aace.com/college.