From Our CEO: CPE Anniversary a Terrific Time to Reflect on AAPL’s Evolution

What truly underlies the importance of this, or any, association? It’s always comes down to the people and the beauty of interpersonal relationships.

We all have them — anniversaries — and, if you think about it, there are many types of them. We each have been celebrating them since our birth, and there even will be a special one after our departure. We celebrate organizations, milestones, achievements, remembrances, partnerships ... too many to tally, actually.

For those who have a linguistic interest, anniversary (noun, c. 1200) — which means the annual return of a certain date in the year — originally focused on the day of a person's death or a saint's martyrdom, according to the Online Etymology Dictionary. Its roots are from the Medieval Latin anniversarium, which led to the Latin word anniversarius, meaning “returning annually” — stemming from annus (genitive anni), meaning “year,” placed together with versus (past participle of vertere), meaning “to turn.”

peter angood

Peter B. Angood

I frequently tell the story about the origins of this association and why we are based in Tampa, Florida. Roger Schenke was the association’s original CEO when it started in the Washington, D.C., area as part of the American Medical Group Association — an entity still active and successful today, and now known simply as AMGA. Our association originally was called the American Academy of Medical Directors, and Roger gradually appreciated that separating from the AMGA would be in the best interests of both organizations. Roger liked to golf, however, and what better place to do that than in Florida?

In 1989, we changed our name to the American College of Physician Executives, and in 2014 we took our current name, the American Association for Physician Leadership. During this evolution, the Certified Physician Executive credential was launched in 1997, and its operations were placed within AAPL’s wholly owned subsidiary, the Certifying Commission for Medical Management. The first CPE cohort received certification in 1998 — 20 years ago.

While many exceptional individuals have been responsible for the early development and ongoing refinements to the CPE program, three stand out — Barbara Linney, Dr. Bob Hodge and Tina Ramsey. Without them, the CPE would not have become the fine program that is now widely recognized in the industry as a preferred credential for physician leaders. My personal thanks are not deep enough for Barbara, Bob and Tina. As well, my genuine appreciation also goes out to the numerous others, of whom there are too many to list, who also have contributed to the growth and development of AAPL’s beacon credential. Thank you, all.


2,712 – Number of physicians who have earned Certified Physician Executive designation since the first cohort in 1998.

– Number of days for the capstone session. (That’s the last step in the credentialing process.)

5 – Number of days for the original version of the capstone, formerly known as the tutorial.

64 – CPE candidates per class. Enrollment is capped, and slots fill quickly.

4 – Capstone events each year. After April’s session in Boston, Massachusetts, the next one will be in July, in Chicago, Illinois.

150 – Number of CME hours of preliminary coursework CPEs candidate must complete through the American Association for Physician Leadership before applying for certification.

1 – Relevant graduate management degree (such as MBA, MMM, MHA, MPH) required of a CPE candidate in lieu of the preliminary coursework.

To learn more about the CPE, visit the Certifying Commission in Medical Management’s website at

The excellent foundation they provided allows AAPL to continue refining the CPE program in a way that not only keeps the credential relevant but also grows its stature within health care. To this end, the AAPL education development team is progressively rolling out improvements and refinements to the coursework that leads up to the sentinel moment of the program — the CPE capstone. If you are in the CPE track, or are considering it, keep an eye out for how these improvements come into place.

As these ongoing refinements gradually leverage their intended effect, our industry progressively will better recognize how an individual with a CPE credential is more highly valuable than one with some other three-letter credential following his or her MD designation. Our overall intent is that this credential is recognized not only by physicians seeking advanced-degree credentials as the must-have, but that all organizations where physicians work also better recognize the CPE as the must-have credential for physicians on their medical staffs and in their leadership teams. And we are well on our way in this process.

Well-Rounded Support

Make no mistake: AAPL continues to promote the message that, at some level, all physicians are leaders. In so doing, we encourage all physicians to not distract themselves by thinking AAPL is focused only upon the CPE program. AAPL is highly committed to providing all physicians — as well as other nonphysician clinical disciplines — with the best in leadership education and management training experiences. For those of you in this grouping, I encourage you to pay attention to our rapidly evolving portfolio of programs, products and services that are designed to holistically provide all components of supporting and succeeding in your professional and personal lives. Additionally, the supportive technical infrastructure being built and progressively implemented is coming strongly into place. It is unique and well-designed to make it as simple as possible for you to follow a more holistic and comprehensive approach toward your successes.

In addition to the usual array of courses and annual meeting activities, the upcoming Physician Leadership Summit in Boston, Massachusetts, will profile the refreshed direction AAPL has been heading. Not only will we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the CPE program, but we’ll also continue the initiative we launched last fall in Arizona — the Beyond Burnout and Resilience program.

Our association has been around nearly 45 years, and our beacon credential — Certified Physician Executive — is now fully 20 years in existence.


Also, we are bringing back the Vanguard program for our group of seasoned leaders. The program was in hibernation for a couple of years as we focused on refreshing other core aspects of the association, but the time has come for its return. Keynote presentations and special topic panels, in addition to a host of presentations from our members, are all coming nicely into place as this issue goes to press. So, if you have been away from AAPL, or are just getting to know AAPL better, I hope you will come join in our anniversary celebration and a rounded-out set of leadership activities. It promises to be worth your while.

Stronger Together

As I wonder about the significance of anniversaries, I believe the true value for them is the coming together of people and the relationships between them. The sense of value from belonging to a network of people is difficult to delineate. Inherently, humans are designed to connect with one another, and the medical evidence certainly is clear that those who remain socially connected throughout their lives remain healthier. On both professional and personal levels, we all simply do better when connected with others.

But the most critical professional relationship for us all is the patient-physician relationship. This relationship drives health care at all levels, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Let’s all remain committed to making this relationship a highest priority. As physicians, we must continually seek how to optimize patient-centered care in the face of ever-increasing complexity. We also must continue to seek how our role as the natural, intended leaders in the health care system can be further leveraged in the face of competing priorities. Proactively helping others, as physician leaders, to stay focused on true patient-centered care is a critical component of our professional responsibility. The industry needs us to do this — and society needs us to do this.

AAPL has a long history now. Our own community continues to remain robust, and the full sense of value our participants obtain remains difficult to quantify. Qualitatively, however, given the frequency of positive attributions and accolades for how AAPL affects physician lives, there is a huge amount of data. We are healthy and moving forward in a strongly positive fashion. Our altruistic commitment as an organization is to continue creating significant change in health care — we believe it and are advancing to succeed in it.

At its core, AAPL maximizes the potential of physician leadership to create significant personal and organizational transformation.

I encourage all of us to continue seeking deeper levels of understanding and to generate influence at all levels to which we are individually comfortable. As physician leaders, let us get more engaged, stay engaged and help others to become engaged. Creating a broader level of positive change in health care — and society — is within our reach.

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