By Ash Walker, DHSc, MA, ACSM-CEP, FAACVPR | AACVPR President
Hello, AACVPR Nation! I hope you enjoyed the 37th Annual Meeting in West Palm Beach as much as I did. It was great to be back in person to see old friends again and to make new ones.
As I write this article for News & Views, it’s hard to believe I’m doing so as the president of AACVPR. I discovered the field of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation by accident 20 years ago, and I’m so glad I did. I was oblivious to the specialty when I began working as a clinical exercise physiologist years ago – until a colleague asked me to grab a pulse oximeter for her. I hesitated, wanting to make sure I grabbed the right item. Keep in mind that some pulse oximeters were as big as small automobiles back then, and we used many in different shapes and sizes. Nonetheless, I became enamored with all things cardiopulmonary rehabilitation and wanted to learn everything I could about the practice. I developed an insatiable curiosity about our profession that couldn’t be extinguished. That curiosity is just as strong today as it was then.
As I embark on my presidential term, I’m honored to step into this role and help lead AACVPR over the next year. The work of past presidents has paved the way for many successes in our association, as well as the field overall. Looking to the future, however, I’m certain that we will have both familiar and new challenges to address. I’m also confident that AACVPR is well positioned to help address these hurdles. While in West Palm Beach, the board of directors kicked off the process of developing a new strategic plan, to be implemented in January 2023. The roadmap will guide our decisions and create opportunities for AACVPR to continue to be leaders in the delivery of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation. I’ll share more about our specific goals at the beginning of next year. I’m looking forward to using our collective voices and working together to achieve great things.
The cardiopulmonary rehabilitation landscape is shifting beneath our feet with new delivery models, regulatory changes and reimbursement challenges. We must be bold in facing this unknown territory together. Moreover, we must keep advocating for cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, a life-saving and life-changing service that continues to be underutilized in healthcare. We, the AACVPR membership, have always been able to pull together to conquer obstacles facing the field. With that in mind, I want to issue you a challenge over the coming weeks.
What can you do to help advocate and strengthen the field of cardiopulmonary rehabilitation? You might feel overwhelmed when I ask this question and unsure how to respond. However, your answer to my challenge can take many forms. Maybe it involves wider distribution of your program outcomes to engage and familiarize a larger audience. Or, it could involve serving on a committee in your state affiliate organization and/or at the national level. My point is that you have expertise and experience that can make an impact in more ways than I can write in this article.
I’m honored to serve as your President and grateful to the many passionate cardiopulmonary rehabilitation professionals who have supported me over the years. Now, it’s time to give back. I’m here to serve for you and with you as we walk together toward our future. And the future is bright!