In 1974, President Nixon established a week in April to recognize the importance of volunteering. National Volunteer Week is scheduled for April 23–29 this year. At the College, we like to acknowledge and thank our volunteers year round. The mission of the College cannot be achieved without the time, effort, talent and dedication of our volunteer leaders and committee members. So thank you!
Explore this issueThe Rheumatologist: Vol 11 – No 4 – April 2017
Also by this Author
We are currently recruiting the next class of stellar ACR volunteers. For 2017, we are looking for about 60 people to fill openings on the standing committees and the Board of Directors for the ACR, as well as the Rheumatology Research Foundation. Now you can help shape the exciting future of rheumatology.
My initiation as an ACR volunteer was with an opportunity in 1988 to serve on a program committee for the Central Region Annual Meeting.
In 1994, I was nominated by Arthur Weaver, MD, MACR, to serve on the ACR’s Planning and Organizational Review Committee. This volunteer opportunity exposed me to the full range of activities and services that the ACR provides to its members. It also introduced me to the ACR’s process of strategic planning and the importance of this effort.
In the late 1990s, I served on the Committee on Rheumatologic Care Network. The experience of volunteering for the ACR was so positive that I wanted to keep coming back for more.
In 2006, Stanley Cohen, MD, MACR, nominated me to serve on the Committee on Government Affairs. He was aware of my interest in advocacy and the political process of our country. I later chaired the Committee on Government Affairs and subsequently served on the ACR Board of Directors.
Like many volunteer leaders, I did go through periods of not being selected to serve despite nomination; you cannot get discouraged or take it personally. Each year, many qualified members apply for volunteer positions, but not everyone can be selected each time. One should not lose heart.
The Committee on Nominations and Appointments does a thorough job and looks at varied factors in selecting volunteers for a given year. The committee tries to ensure that each committee has representation from various membership constituencies, including practice, academics, health professionals and researchers. The committee also uses demographic and geographic considerations to determine committee makeup.
Although my passion has been government affairs, the College needs a diverse set of volunteers with interests and expertise in a variety of areas, such as communications and marketing, ethics, education, research and practice. Within an area of interest, a quality candidate becomes familiar with the College’s programs and services, has the opportunity to demonstrate an ability to work in group settings and approach work with a positive and enthusiastic attitude. Essentially, we need someone like you on every committee!
Benefits of Service
Volunteering for the College embodies many joys and benefits. It truly is worth it. One meets incredibly bright, talented and wonderful colleagues from various segments of the membership. We have so much to learn from each other. There is excellent comradery and goodwill among the volunteers and the very talented ACR staff. Everyone is working toward the common goal of Advancing Rheumatology! I have made lasting friendships with people I would not have met had I not volunteered for the College.
I truly encourage you to submit your nomination, be you a rookie or a seasoned volunteer.
Not Much Time? No Problem
The ACR introduced microvolunteering this past year, and we have updated the opportunities for 2017. Microvolunteering opportunities are short-term and short time-commitment activities. These can be ideal for first-time volunteers or for those who may not be able to commit to three years of service on a committee at this time but wish to stay involved and connected.
To date, 125 members have signed up to participate in microvolunteering opportunities. Microvolunteering categories and opportunities include:
Advocacy: Possible activities include reaching out to representatives by participating in a fundraiser to deliver a RheumPAC check, emailing lawmakers when important issues arise and/or writing an open letter to your lawmakers.
Annual Meeting: Possible activities include reviewing abstracts, moderating a session and/or testing the Annual Meeting app.
Clinical support: Possible activities include assisting in crafting position statements. These are trusted and valuable resources for the healthcare industry.
Content development: Possible activities include assisting in concept development for quality measures.
Content expert: Possible activities include serving as an expert-on-call for media inquiries and/or serving as a reviewer to comment on new content, advertisements or products.
Mentorship: Pediatric rheumatologists can serve as an AMIGO (the ACR/CARRA Mentoring Interest Group for Pediatric Rheumatologists) mentor to address the needs of early career pediatric rheumatologists.
Promotion: You can increase public awareness during the nominations period to encourage members to nominate a colleague or self-nominate to volunteer, or nominate a colleague for an award.
Research: Possible activities include becoming a peer reviewer for the Foundation and/or assisting with drafting responses to NIH requests on behalf of the College.
Speak: Opportunities abound to speak on faculty panels, serve as a moderator and/or be interviewed for an article or media event.
Technology: We invite volunteers to create and search for content to enhance the journals’ websites.
Write: If you have an interesting case or idea, we invite you to write an article for The Rheumatologist. Articles are needed on a variety of topics, including ethics.
To view the list of all microvolunteering activities and to let us know your interests.
On behalf of the Committee on Nominations and Appointments, consider this your invitation to nominate yourself or a colleague to Advance Rheumatology! by becoming an ACR volunteer. No matter how much (or how little) time you have to commit, or what activities best suit and interest you, the College has a role for you!
Volunteer Nominations are now open. For more information, visit www.rheumatology.org. The deadline to submit a nomination for an ACR and/or Foundation committee position is June 1. Microvolunteering opportunities are always open.
Among those of you reading this column, some are the future presidents of the American College of Rheumatology. Welcome to volunteering!
Sharad Lakhanpal, MBBS, MD, is in private practice at Rheumatology Associates and a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, both in Dallas, where he has lived and worked since 1986. He is also the 80th president of the ACR (2016–17).