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Honoring exemplary clinical care

January 1, 2009
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The addiction treatment community tends to worry so much about the profession's future that it often neglects to celebrate its workers' significant accomplishments in the present. So it has been extremely uplifting for me to review all the success stories chronicled in the nominations that were submitted for Addiction Professional's first Outstanding Clinicians Awards.

In all, we received 72 nominations for awards in the three categories of counselor, clinical supervisor/manager and physician. Our three winners in the respective categories—Glynis Matthews, Ruthann Adam and Frederick Montgomery—are profiled in this issue, and will be recognized at the SECAD '09 conference in Atlanta on Feb. 9. We thank everyone who participated in the nomination process.

Our three honorees range in age from early 30s to late 60s, and have brought a diversity of experiences to their work with people needing addiction services. Yet in reviewing the nomination forms from their peers, as well as their own words to me, I was struck by a number of similarities:

  • A client-first approach. Matthews, formerly an adolescent counselor at the Ernest Kennedy Center in South Carolina who recently began counseling military families for the Defense Department, admits that his enthusiasm for clients' potential often earned him labels such as “naïve” and “bleeding heart.” But he says proudly, “I don't ever want to lose my passion for my client.”

  • A thirst for knowledge. Adam is credited with diversifying clinical services in her role as clinical program director at Memorial Hermann Prevention and Recovery Center in Houston, and much of this stems from seeing needs in the urban community and wanting to be equipped personally to handle them. “I want to offer people the best,” she says.

  • A sense of humility. Our honorees have hardly sought attention for their accomplishments. In fact, none probably would have predicted what they have been able to attain through their work in the field. Scott Munson, the executive director of Sundown M Ranch and nominator of facility medical director Montgomery, wrote, “One of the primary reasons for nominating Dr. Montgomery is that he has not sought such recognition. Maybe because for many he has always been there, the one who provided the expertise, the one to consult, the one to turn to when a family member needed help, we have taken him for granted.”

We often hear discussions of an addiction workforce in crisis, where low compensation and difficult working conditions threaten to drain the field of precious resources. These issues are real, but it is also important to remember that just as there are many paths to recovery for the addict, individuals of many different backgrounds and talents will continue to find their way to meaningful work in this field. The fact that this subject is able to pull at people in a number of different ways is probably advantageous, given some of the other workforce-related challenges the profession encounters.

What makes this effort all the more rewarding for us at the magazine is we feel these honorees' stories will resonate with our readers, who will see in them aspects of the work of countless others who are making a difference. In honoring these three individuals this year, we honor the others as well, and we intend for this to be the first of many opportunities to highlight the important individual achievements that help people reclaim their lives.

Gary A. Enos, Editor Addiction Professional 2009 January-February;7(1):6