It gives me great pleasure to extend a warm welcome to Fellows and Members of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland, also to those who are considering joining us as well as visitors to our site. We are proud of our historical roots, dating back to 1882, and the affiliation of some of the most prestigious medics and scientists of their time. I trust that your association with RAMI will be mutually beneficial and provide a forum to supplement our professional requirement of life-long learning as well as providing the opportunity to meet and engage with like-minded colleagues.
Professor Kevin Carson
President’s Report 2020 / 2021
The times we are living through are indeed strange or different – but on deeper reflection, are they? As a nation, like almost every nation in the world, we have certainly been pulled up short in our tracks. But this is not the first epi or pandemic to affect humankind. In fact such sicknesses are integral to the narrative of humanity and can be traced back through history and include the plague, small pox, polio and influenza that even today, more than a hundred years after the infamous pandemic that swept through Europe in the aftermath of the First World War, still claims significant numbers of victims each year.
Indeed our responses to these contagions in history and today’s COVID pandemic, are remarkably similar before widespread vaccination or definitive treatment i.e. isolation, quarantine regimens, travel limitations, prohibition of gatherings, banning of religious ceremonies and funerals.
The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI) was founded on 22 November 1882 by the merger of four major medical societies from surgery, medicine, pathology and obstetrics & gynaecology.
The primary role of the Academy is that of providing a forum for the exchange of scientific information and to promote academic discussion, so essential to scientific progress.
Throughout the years RAMI has weathered the Civil War, two world wars and indeed the already mentioned influenza pandemic that followed World War One, with such a high mortality. However, as Seamus Heaney advised in 1965,
“Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.”
We can affirm that RAMI has a firm, strong wall built on sure and solid stone, but the challenge as the President, leading with the Executive and General Council is that we are flexible and relevant to changing times. Whilst the ideals and tenets of 1882 are still laudable and pertinent, we have to respond to the demands of today.
As a yard stick, we have RAMI’s objectives stated in the “Rules”:
- To foster all branches of medical and allied sciences;
- To facilitate the course of scientific advance;
- To encourage communication within the medical profession and between the medical and allied professions;
- And through its journal to encourage the publication of scientific and clinical observations.
- Traditionally, as visioned by our Founding Fathers, these objectives have been pursued and actioned in meetings of the various 20+ sections who form the working, individual fora of the Academy providing opportunities for specialist colloquy.
Since RAMI’s inception, it’s evolution and ontogenesis throughout the last 120 or so years, has been paralleled by the foundation and development of specialist Colleges and Faculties, that together with the Irish Medical Council have evolved programs of CPD that are now a formalised requirement of continued medical registration, active clinical practise and professionalism. As such the Academy’s role in the area of CPD is evolving and shines a light on the increasing importance of the role of our official journal, the Irish Journal of Medical Science (IJMS) which is currently published quarterly.
The Journal goes from strength to strength. Professor Bill Tormey is the current Editor-in-Chief. I would like to congratulate Professor Twomey and those Editors-in Chief who went before for achieving a current impact factor of 1.1. However as Lord Byron said “Fame is the thirst of youth” and we are now receiving almost 3000 submissions annually for review. As part of the academic world, we are moving into uncharted territory with the transition to free access journals.
Certainly COVID has challenged us to refocus our game plan, to review our current offerings and look at our future strategy. In light of COVID, following Government guidelines, our face to face meetings were suspended. Some of the Sections have moved their meetings successfully to an on-line format. Others have taken new initiatives to reach out e.g. with Research Awards.
Unfortunately in 2020 the Graves Lecture and the President’s Lecture as well as the RAMI Annual Research Awards were postponed. It seems that COVID, as well as the restrictions on meeting and travelling will be with us for some time despite the vaccination program. However, I see these circumstances as a challenge and opportunity rather than as a disaster and disappointment and plan that these cardinal events in RAMI’s calendar will go ahead this year 2021, if not in a College venue then either virtually on-line or a hybrid of the two.
The ongoing success of RAMI is a team effort. Together we can give expression to the words of Seamus Heaney, 1991, “the virtue of an art that knows its mind”. As I said earlier RAMI has survived alongside the misfortunes of history and similarly, I give our commitment to carry on despite COVID.
I would like to personally thank each member of the Executive and General Council for their commitment and all the work they put into RAMI as well as for their support to me. I would particularly like to thank and acknowledge Dr Patrick O’Sullivan, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, Professor Bill Tormey, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Ms Helen Moore, Managing Editor and Administrator whose assistance is invaluable.
The Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland is a unique and very special Institution; I am very honoured to be the current President. RAMI has a rich past yet is dynamic and relevant, responding to the demands of today. RAMI is recognised both at home and abroad as a champion of excellence supporting life-long learning, from undergraduate, throughout one’s professional career to retiree as well as supporting academic prowess through its Journal, eponymous lectures and section meetings. It is also through these endeavors and enterprises that a robust future for RAMI is assured.
Professor Kevin Carson