Bart Morlion looks back on his three years as European Pain Federation President:
At the start of my term I announced that my motto would be “The European Pain Federation on the Move” relating not only to the Presidential Campaign stressing the role of movement in the prevention and management of pain, but also moving our Federation to new heights. At the end of my term I can proudly state that, with the support of the board and the executive office, we really moved forwards, while humbly recognizing that some in some areas the moves need to be intensified.
While 2019-2020 was a successful year, over the past three years I feel that the Federation has grown in many ways. Firstly, we have a fully functioning Executive Office driving the organisation forward. You may not know them all, but each member of our team plays a valuable role in professionalising our activities, managing projects and communicating their results. I hope you have noticed the difference in your interactions with us. A professional team needs a professional office. We took the bold decision to acquire an office property in the center of Brussels, in close vicinity of the European Institutions. I thank my predecessor Chris Wells for starting this process of team expansion. My special thanks go to our executive director Sam Kynman. Managing the expanding list of projects, working with so many volunteers, is a real challenge. His diplomatic skills, patience and friendliness while respecting the historic DNA of our federation were key to the success of my presidency.
Secondly, my term was the moment when our congress became wholly owned and managed by our organisation independently. While this may seem a technical issue, it has proven crucial in the improvement of our finances but also in the delivery of a successful congress that meets the expectations of our community. Professional Congress Organisers (PCOs) play a valid role in the management of meetings but owning and managing your own congress can really improve performance. It takes significant investment and team expansion but can pay off significantly even in the short term.
Thirdly, I am proud to see the Federation reorganised around a new Committee structure. This has proven to be a real advantage in the development of new projects. Our Education, Research and Advocacy 3-pillar structure is clear to the outside world but also helps bring clarity to project management. I thank my colleagues Andreas Kopf, Gisele Pickering and Thomas Tölle for their chairmanship of these Committees and the delivery of many new projects.
Fourth, I am pleased to see the integration of many new volunteers into our organisation. Our open call in 2018 led to many people being recruited directly into projects from a written application, whilst we also sought out through our networks many influential educators and researchers to lead our work. The dedication of our volunteers and the many hours of work done selflessly for the benefit of the wider pain community is inspiring.
Fifth, I am happy to leave the Federation’s Presidency with the organisation in a good state of financial health. While 2017 saw the Federation’s accounts with a strong capital balance, our income was declining in a way that could have led to serious problems at this point. Through the new congress model, new sponsor relationships and various cost efficiencies (e.g. more virtual meetings), we are close to achieving a balanced biennial budget. I thank our Treasurer Elon Eisenberg for his stewardship of our finances and for his 6 years of service in this role.
Finally, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has made the past three years a success. Our Executive Board and Committee Chairs have been fundamental to our achievements and working with them has been a real pleasure. I would like to thank our esteemed Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Pain Luis Garcia-Larrea, with whom I have served as Deputy Editor. While the EJP’s successes are largely independent of the Federation and are the product of our Editorial Board and contributors, it is still pleasing to see them succeed over this same period. The Impact Factor of the journal currently stands at 3.49, up from around 2.9 two years ago; a wonderful achievement. I would like to pass on my regards to the two Presidents of IASP during my term, Judith Turner and Lars Arendt Nielsen. The EFIC-IASP relationship is important and requires regular nourishment. Our cooperation over recent years has been helpful for both organisations and long may it continue. I would also like to say a special thank you to our Executive Secretary Christel Geevels. Many of you know that Christel is the heart of the Federation and makes our engagements and meetings a smooth experience for us all. Christel recently completed ten years of service at the Federation and for that we are incredibly grateful.
Finally, my special thanks go to my family, who supported me in my role, and accepted me not being present on so many memorable family events. I would like to warmly welcome our next President, Brona Fullen. In truth, we have worked together over the past years to move the Federation forward in the right direction. I am delighted to see the Virtual Pain Education Summit come to life across our two Presidencies and for truly interprofessional education to be made a reality through this endeavour. I am confident that the Federation is being left in good hands and I will use my final year on the Executive Board to support Brona in the implementation of her vision.