Roughly two years ago, Dr. James Richard made a commitment and decision. He was completing the final year of a four-year term as Speaker of the House of Delegates of the College of American Pathologists (CAP). The Speaker is responsible for listening to the needs of all CAP members and articulating those needs to the CAP Board of Governors, where they create services and products to address those needs. The decision was to run for CAP President-Elect. The commitment was to make sure the services and products the CAP turned out would directly respond to member needs.
“I said to myself, ‘You know what? I’ve been exploring member needs for six years,’” Richard, D.O., FCAP, commented. “I can use that base to make a difference by being on the policy, services and product-making side of things.”
Colleagues said, “’Jim your kids are out of the house, you’ve got grandkids, is this what you want to be doing with your time?’ I thought a lot about that before deciding. I had to take some of the advice that I always told my kids: ‘Fill your time with meaningful things. Only you can determine what is meaningful.’ Becoming the CAP President would give me the opportunity to make a difference in the profession I love and for the colleagues who comprise it.”
What Richard said he didn’t expect is that he’d eventually end up in a contested three-way race alongside Dr. Timothy Allen, M.D., J.D., and Dr. Emily Volk, M.D., FCAP, both of whom currently serve as CAP Governors. The three will face off in the upcoming CAP election that runs from July 23 to August 22.
The winner will serve a five-year term that consists of two years as President-Elect, followed by an additional two years in the role of President and one final year as the Immediate-Past President.
When asked what distinguishes him as a candidate in this crowded field, Richard pointed to his six years spent serving as Speaker and Vice Speaker of the CAP House of Delegates from 2012-2018, a position in which he not only needed to articulate member needs, but also routinely negotiate and build consensus.
Richard also mentioned his success in business negotiations throughout his career, including securing the 2014 sale of CAP-Lab, LLC, where he was a partner and lab director, to Sparrow Hospital, where he serves as the Medical Director of the Laboratory and Department Chairman. Richard says he is particularly proud of the fact that the deal included raises for all of the hospital pathologists and permanent positions at the hospital for every employee.
“I’m the ideal candidate because I have a well thought out plan of action and a history of being able to deliver,” Richard said.
After his years serving the House of Delegates, Richard believes there are two primary concerns facing pathologists. The first is protecting the livelihood of the profession, which he characterizes as “being able to make a good living while being able to make the decisions required to deliver good patient care.”
The second concern Richard said he most commonly hears is a desire to elevate the status of pathology within the broader medical community.
“To elevate your stature in the medical community, that means that more than just the people in your own department have to say you’re good,” Richard explained, adding that pathologists sometimes have a tendency to talk too much with other pathologists. “Elevating our stature means people other than pathologists acknowledging the value that we bring to the table.”
Part of his plan to address this is to build strategic alliances to strengthen CAP’s voice. Richard said becoming more in-step with state pathology societies is a start.
“Grassroots-level participation is a must,” Richard said. “Also, communication goes a long way. An educated grassroots team will articulate what your collective needs are.”
But, if Richard finds himself on the outside looking in after the election, he said he will be thankful for having had the opportunity to run.
“Running has given me the opportunity to make a difference,” Richard said. “That’s what drives me and that won’t stop whenever the election is over.
“I tell people, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do every day than what I get the chance to do every day. It’s nice to be away, it’s nice to go hiking, it’s nice to do different things, but when it’s all said and done, you get to the end of that vacation and you’re itching to be back in the office. You’re itching to be able to do this again. You want to make a difference.”
Richard may be contacted directly via his campaign website.