April 2021
A message from Ted Kunstling, MD, FCCP
2020-2021 Wake County Medical Society President

Greetings: I am honored to have been selected by the Executive Council of the Wake County Medical Society to serve as your new president in 2021.

Introducing myself, I am a graduate of Duke University School of Medicine, received postgraduate training at Vanderbilt, and served in the U.S. Navy. My membership in WCMS dates from 1975 when I joined Raleigh Internal Medicine as the first pulmonologist in Raleigh. I have served in several medical leadership roles including medical staff president and medical executive committee chairman at both WakeMed and Duke Raleigh Hospital and, for six years, until I retired at the end of 2013, as chief medical officer at Duke Raleigh. My wife Frances is a long-time member of the WCMS Alliance.

The Society has been an important part of my professional and personal life both while I practiced and then after I retired. It helped me develop professional relationships which have continued as friendships to this day.

We thank Dr. Doug Holmes for serving as our president for the past two years, a time of great stress related to the COVID 19 pandemic for many organizations and especially for our medical community. Thanks also to our Executive Council including Past President Robert Munt, Treasurer Marilu Thordsen, members Warner Hall, Ken Holt, Assad Meymandi, Eric Rappaport, Mike Thomas, and John Perry for their ongoing efforts on behalf of you and our society. These doctors have a long record of leadership service to our community. And thank you Paul Harrison who has served the Society as Executive Director for 21 years.

Our medical community has experienced explosive growth and momentous transformation since 1975. Today most physicians are employed by large health systems, many are involved in specialty societies, and many more women are pursuing careers in medicine. Our medical community is much more diverse. Many physicians today have spouses who are also professionals, making time at home and for children more precious. Unfortunately, many of these changes have left us more isolated from one another. Today, as our community emerges from the restrictions and demands of the COVID 19 pandemic, we must ask how the Society can best serve our physicians, surgeons, and PAs. How can we restore and renew the relevance of WCMS?

WCMS can continue to serve us and our spouses in important ways by enhancing collegiality, by helping us stay connected, by learning from one another, and by fostering friendships. It can enrich our lives by exposing us to cultural activities and connecting our doctors with opportunities to become leaders in our great city. We can empower doctors who wish to serve the marginalized by connecting them with organizations such as Project Access, Open Door Clinic, Alliance Medical Ministries, and others. Burnout is a continuing concern, not alleviated by just setting limits, building barriers to patient access, and self-care. Physicians and surgeons have the intelligence, training, resources, aptitude, and influence to make a difference. This is what makes life worthwhile, that is why we went into medicine. Together, we can grow.

Wake County’s medical population has become so large that small group activities must assume greater importance in strengthening our bonds. Before and even during COVID small group activities sponsored by the Society have included a book club, visits to museums, cultural events, the Islamic Center, and other social events. As COVID restrictions are lifted, we plan to offer more of these opportunities for our members and their families to share experiences, build friendships, and engage with our community.

WCMS and the North Carolina Medical Society have complementary roles. It is not our intent to duplicate the especially useful roles of the NCMS which supports and represents our physicians and surgeons state-wide.

As we emerge from the ordeals of pandemic, social turmoil, and political divisiveness, I urge and challenge you to not just support your Society with your membership and participation, but to step forward and become a leader. Help shape your local Wake County medical community and the cities and towns in which you will live and practice in the decades ahead and in which you will raise your families. You are needed and your service will be greatly rewarded.