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Dear Web Editor,
Although I am a psychologist rather than an allergist, I have had the opportunity to see from many perspectives what allergists accomplish for others. I have experienced the field of allergy as a patient, a scientist, a frequent observer of continuing education programs for allergists, and the spouse of an allergist. I have witnessed the transformation in the quality of my own life as a result of allergy treatment, from a person who was miserable during certain seasons and in many locales to one who can travel all over the world whenever I choose with no distress. I have become quite familiar with the elegant scientific basis of allergy treatment and have been duly impressed with the expertise of those who present on the academic and clinical aspects of the field. Perhaps most importantly, I have witnessed firsthand the caring, consideration, and "extra mile" effort allergists extend to their patients.
One of the things which has impressed me most about the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) is the collegial, welcoming atmosphere. Virtually all of those involved in the College treat each other and their guests like friends rather than competitors or outsiders. Their focus seems to be on providing quality care rather than making more money. When they disagree, it's virtually always based on their perceptions of what’s best for the patients and for the field rather than on what's best for them personally.
Having been in the role of physician's spouse who happens to be a psychologist in many meetings of medical doctors, I have consistently felt that allergists are the most appreciative of and interested in my views as a psychologist and a professional. I have been invited several times to speak on topics such as treatment compliance, psychological aspects of asthma, etc. Often I have been asked by leaders within the College for my opinions about organizational structure and operational excellence. In no other group of physicians have I felt so respected.
Yes, I wrote this letter because I was asked by my allergist spouse to help kick off your newly designed website. However, I can assure you that what I have written comes from the heart. In other physician groups I have experienced the subtle disdain with which psychology is sometimes viewed. Moreover, I have felt among many physicians the diminution in status which often results from being the spouse of a physician, especially a male spouse. Never have I felt those hurtful undercurrents in the College, and I value that egalitarianism. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, "Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you help them to become what they are capable of being."
Ralph E. (Gene) Cash, Ph.D., NCSP