Simon Vulfsons 

Presidential message

Dear FIMM delegates and members,

I am honored to accept the position of President of the International Federation of Manual/Musculoskeletal Medicine for the period of 2014-2018. I wish to thank both the members of the Executive Board and the delegates of the participating member societies laying their trust in my hands for the coming 4 years. These years, I believe will help shape a stronger and more proactive FIMM in endeavoring to strengthen both the field of musculoskeletal medicine as well as bring more relief from pain, disability and suffering.

FIMM faces many challenges such as examining and even redefining the goals of the federation, its present activities and the direction it will take in years to come. As of now, FIMM is a federation of 22 national societies, representing approximately 12,000 physicians worldwide. Unfortunately, there are many more practicing physicians not represented and not heard from in countries that in the past held an important role in FIMM. There are other countries that have never been represented, but I am sure that there are many physicians who, like ourselves, have found satisfaction and joy from treating patients suffering from debilitating musculoskeletal conditions. These physicians are not represented and their voices are not heard. I would like to help them get representation - possibly as observer members.

FIMM has made huge progress in some fields, such as establishing safety and particularly education guidelines for physicians practicing the art and science of musculoskeletal medicine. Now is the time to turn these guidelines into a practical working format, bestowing the appropriate international status and recognition for those of us who have dedicated our professional lives to this field. It is time to pour value into the guidelines, thus allowing us to state who we believe to be the physicians that are both educated and capable of being diplomats in musculoskeletal medicine.

FIMM, I believe, should move in the direction that the world is moving in - interconnected communities of like-minded professionals, with the modern facility for interaction in education, training, consultation and even referral of patients if necessary. We can develop a wonderful community helping each other and in the long run helping our patients. FIMM has worked for many years as a political instrument to help national societies meld together and form collaborations for mutual benefit.

Out of FIMM came the International Academy for Manual and Musculoskeletal Medicine. For some years now the Academy and FIMM have been working in parallel, with the Academy devoted mainly to the progress of the science of musculoskeletal medicine. We can hope that the two bodies can work out a mutual agreement on collaboration for the advance of both the science and the art of manual and musculoskeletal medicine. It is vital to have good science to back up our work.

Equally is it important to maintain a high standard of education. And above all should we strive to work together, each bettering the other with common goals and a cohesive direction.

Finances are a complicated issue and although there are no secrets here, each member of FIMM can refer to his national delegate for information concerning the source of funding. In general, it is safe to say that funds can come from internal sources, such as dues from national societies, or from an external source such as industry, donations, grant supports etc. In the next 4 years, we intend to be as creative as possible in putting the financial state of FIMM on firm ground enabling us to support such endeavors such as research, education and the enhancement of the professional status of musculoskeletal medicine.

On a personal note, I am 57 years old , married with two grown children. I am the current Director of the Institute for Pain Medicine at the Rambam Health Care Campus, Haifa Israel. My postgraduate training is in internal medicine. I am a specialist in pain medicine, with a special emphasis on musculoskeletal medicine as a subspecialty. In the Institute of Pain Medicine we have a staff of approximately 50 members. The institute is a multidisciplinary center working according to the model of bio-psycho-social medicine. It is for this reason that we have a robust psychological and manual medicine team, and alongside the doctors we have psychologists, social workers, spiritual guidance as well as chiropractors, osteopaths, physical therapists and even massage therapists for the deep tissues.

I established a school of pain medicine in 2009 in conjunction with our university - the Israel Institute of Technology - the Technion. It is through this school that I established a two year course in pain and musculoskeletal medicine comprising 240 hours and an additional practicum at the Pain Institute for a minimum of 60 hours. These courses are for physicians, primarily family practitioners, who are at the forefront of dealing with musculoskeletal conditions. We have 16 diplomates in pain and musculoskeletal medicine and this year another 20 will join their ranks. I am the current chairman of the Israeli Society for Musculoskeletal Medicine (ISMM). I am a founding member of the ISMM and have been on the committee since the inception of the society in 2003.

I hope and wish for fruitful four years as president of FIMM, and I will endeavor to make my period as president as successful as possible.

Yours, Shalom, Simon Vulfsons, M.D.
September 2014