Senior Physicians

SPS member profile: Thomas E. Sullivan, MD

Thomas E. Sullivan, MD

Thomas E. Sullivan, MD

Vice chair, Committee on Senior Physicians, Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS)

  • Former alternate delegate, AMA Senior Physicians Section
  • Former chair, AMA Council on Medical Service
  • Past president, Massachusetts Medical Society
  • Former MMS delegate and alternate (22 years)
  • Former chair/vice chair, New England Delegation (4 years)

Location: Beverly, Massachusetts

Specialty: Cardiovascular disease

Q: As vice chair of the Committee on Senior Physicians at the Massachusetts Medical Society (MMS), can you tell us how the group got started and how many members there are currently?  

A: The MMS Committee on Senior Physicians (CoSP) was started in 2013. Its mission is to recognize the many diverse matters that are of concern to senior physicians age 65 and older, and to explore ways to address these unique issues. It also provides these professionals the opportunity to promote continued participation and personal enrichment. There are currently 19 members on the committee.

Q: How is your group governed and what types of activities does the group participate in?

A: CoSP is one of 21 special committees, established by the MMS House of Delegates (HOD) to address specific topics/subjects and have unlimited openings available. Committee appointments are for specific terms, usually three-year renewable commitments, with maximum of nine years. Then the committee member can remain on the committee as an Advisor, with no voting rights. The committee meets ~4 times a year on Wednesdays from noon–2 p.m.

Q: How does the MMS provide social and fellowship opportunities for senior physician members? Do you have committees and speakers planned for the coming year?

A: The MMS Arts, History, Humanism and Culture Member Interest Network (AHH&C MIN) Executive Council explores the creative side of members interested in a variety of pursuits and provide activities:

  • Art
  • Astronomy
  • Birding
  • Creative Writing
  • Gardening
  • Medical History
  • Music

Many MMS senior physician members and significant others take advantage of these activities. CoSP has events for its members and significant others/guests in May and October annually since 2017. There is a subcommittee that plans the events, that is finalized by the committee. The committee is planning its next event in May 2023.

The events provided opportunities for presentations and panel Q&A as well as socializing when in-person.

Below are the 12 events (six in-person, six virtual) from 2017–2022:

  • Experiencing Retirement: Before, During and After
  • Smooth Transitions: Preparing for and Enjoying Retirement
  • Work and Volunteer Opportunities Upon Retirement
  • Well-Being Strategies and Community Opportunities When Retiring
  • The Financially Confident Physician: Planning For or During Retirement
  • End-Of-Life Preparation for the Physician in Retirement
  • Social and Emotional Well-Being During COVID-19
  • Brain Fitness/Healthy Aging in the New Normal
  • The Impact of Hearing Loss on Potential Cognitive Issues: From Ear Trumpet to Cochlear Implant
  • Senior Physicians and Ageism: Why It Matters and How to Move Beyond It
  • Journal Club event: What do Patients Want: Time? Tech? Touch?
  • The Agony & Ecstasy of Retirement in the Covid Era: Navigating Professional Relationships

Q: Does your group advocate at the federal and state levels on key health care issues impacting patients and physicians? Is your group affiliated with other educational institutions to advance its mission? 

A: The MMS is dedicating resources to start developing a formalized mentoring program. The MMS Mentoring Pilot Program’s Advisory Council was formed with representation from nine committees/sections. Several CoSP members and attendees are AMA delegates as well as advocates at the state and federal level. 

CoSP is currently not affiliated with other educational institutions to advance its mission. In addition, there is a separate MMS Committee on Senior Volunteer Physicians that utilizes the experience and skills of senior practicing and/or retired physicians on a voluntary basis to address and fulfill medical and health education needs of communities throughout Massachusetts.

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