Medical Meetings caught up with Colin C. Rorrie Jr., PhD, CAE, shortly after he was named president and CEO of Dallas-based Meeting Professionals International earlier this summer. Rorrie, who has spent the past 22 years with the American College of Emergency Physicians in Irving, Texas, most recently as executive director, has big plans for translating some of his accomplishments in the medical arena to that of meeting planning.

How does what you've accomplished at ACEP relate to the meeting planning field?

Rorrie: When I came to the College in 1982, emergency medicine was just emerging as a specialty. Through our training programs and three-year residency programs, we've developed more professionally trained emergency physicians: We're producing around 1,100 trained emergency physicians today. As more specialty-trained physicians emerged, hospital administrators began to understand that the emergency department was the entry point into the hospital, so if you don't have a good department with good physicians, you stand to lose a lot of customers.

I hope that we can achieve the same sort of evolution in trained professionals, as well as increased recognition, for meeting planners.

Do you think there are opportunities to work with other organizations to achieve synergistic goals with MPI?

Rorrie: We have to look at where our opportunities may be. I've spent the past few years at ACEP creating relationships. For example, take the crowding and diversion issue in healthcare, where ambulances are diverted to multiple hospitals because of emergency room crowding. ACEP worked with the American Hospital Association on a joint initiative outlining the importance of this issue to hospitals, and on some strategies hospitals and emergency rooms could use to relieve the problem.

I put together a meeting three years ago with some of our leaders and Dennis O'Leary from the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. He initially didn't see crowding and diversion as a long-term issue; but now, three years later, we've co-hosted a major conference (earlier this year in Boston), we're coming out with a white paper, and there's a draft standard out for review that would require hospitals to develop a plan for crowding and diversion.

At MPI, we have the same philosophy. We'll look beyond the internal structure of MPI to see what kinds of partnerships we can put together. [As of press time, MPI announced an alliance between MPI and the National Business Travel Association that gives privileges to members of each organization, such as access to the other's meetings and educational offerings at member rates.]

Sounds like you keep pretty busy — not too much time for playing golf, is there?

Rorrie: Well, I do get out once in a while. But most of my free time is spent helping my wife with her work as a full-time volunteer executive director of an emergency aid center in Dallas. In 2000, we opened a medical clinic for the poor, with about 30 physicians and an equal number of nurses. This summer, we opened a dental clinic as well. I'm chairman of the finance committee and also serve on the board of directors for the organization, which also provides food, rent, utility assistance, English-as-a-second-language instruction, and clothing.

After so many years with ACEP, it must be tough to leave.

Rorrie: I have very strong relationships with my staff, and saying good-bye was very emotional. Some people have said, ‘Gosh, after 30 years in medicine you want to jump into something new?’ I like constant challenges and opportunities and I think I have some valuable things to bring to [the organization].

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