An Interview with Past President: Iris Nichols

NORM Conference

We talked with past president, Iris Nichols, to get her thoughts about her time with NORM. Pictures above are Iris and NORM board tresurer, Rai Mcelroy.

When/how long were you president?

I had the pleasure of serving as the President of NORM for 3 years.

Can you reflect and tell us about your time as president?

My time as President had many rewards. I was given the opportunity to meet and work with many special people who devoted their time, energy and talents in advancing the specialty of Rheumatology. I had an incredible Board and Administrative Director who shared a common vision and commitment to our specialty. These people have given tirelessly and are currently still available.

While you were president, were there obstacles? Do you have any memories about these and how the group worked to overcome them?

In our space there are always obstacles. We encounter them in every facet of our practice. During my tenure as President, Dr. Amiel Tokayer a rheumatologist from Palm Beach, Florida developed incredible tools, which he shared in webinars and general sessions during the NORM conference. We also worked with industry partners and our incredible NORM Education Committee to develop webinars and educational slide decks that were viewed by our membership. The challenges, while very daunting at times, were met with correct information and teamwork.

Could you tell us a couple unique experiences about your time as president?

One of the definitions of unique is: being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else. I think you could categorize the statement I am about to make as unique. Who would have thought we would have had a shortage of saline? I have been in the healthcare field for forty years and have never encountered this “unique” situation. I was at an advisory board meeting when I received a call from my infusion “team lead”. She said, “Iris, I am here with Robbie…our McKesson rep and there is a saline shortage.” Over the next few months the listserv was inundated with comments regarding this shortage. During this time, my husband had outpatient surgery. In recovery this precious commodity of saline was so plentiful and they discarded the “unused” portion. There were trashcans full of this liquid gold. I found myself really coveting this saline. We as Rheumatology managers truly are faced with unique situations each day.

Do you have anything else you’d like to add about watching NORM grow or/and your time as president?

All of the people I have encountered; the managers, coders, physicians and our industry partners have individually and collectively contributed to the growth of NORM. The growth was so strong during the past three years and NORM is now in the position to have a voice at many tables. We should be very proud of where NORM has come from and the very bright future it holds.

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  • As a speaker at the first ad hoc meeting of rheumatology practice managers gathered in a single small room at its infancy a decade ago, I’m amazed to see how NORM has blossomed into a high energy organization of depth and professional meetings with parallel break-out symposia between plenary sessions. NORM has truly come of age. This is where the “business” of rheumatology gets learned. The ”guildmanship” for rheumatology practice management is now strong.- Paul H. Caldron, DO, FACP, FACR, MBA, Arizona Arthritis and Rheumatology Associates
  • In a time of demanding changes in the management of medical practices in the US, NORM has been a lifesaver to the community of Rheumatology practices.  NORM has allowed our practice to stay ahead of the many demands of CMS and others payors and has ensured that our practice remains cognizant of new issues that arise in HIPPA compliance, human resources and medical billing to name a few. Sending our Practice Manager to NORM's conferences has been cost-effective and beneficial to our practice because she returns to our office with an abundance of information that otherwise would have taken months to compile. Every Rheumatology practice that wishes to stay on top of emerging issues in practice management should consider sending a member of their staff to NORM's conference.- Michael S. Rosen M.D., Chester County Rheumatology PC
  • Thanks to all those wonderful people in the NORM Network who respond to emails, offering their advice, experience, time, and support ... I haven't even been a member a full year yet and I am amazed at the dedication of everyone who responds to helping via emails and the NORM Organization itself! I have barely had a chance to explore the resources and I have yet to really dive into requests for help still I am silently learning so much and do occasionally offer what I can! Thank you all!- Cheryl Piambino, Kenneth E. Bresky, DO

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