Margaret Mead, an early 20th century anthropologist, said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”1
The mission of the American College of Rheumatology is Advancing Rheumatology!, and it cannot be achieved without the time, effort, talent and experience of volunteer leaders. You can join ACR volunteers to help shape the exciting future of rheumatology.
Whether you are working in a busy clinical practice, major research institution, community clinic or university lab, you notice opportunities to make a difference and improve outcomes for your patients. You identify solutions to problems. You have a unique perspective on the challenges facing rheumatology’s future and a passionate opinion that needs to be shared with others. You have advice for younger colleagues who are just starting out in their careers; you can provide wisdom and guidance that will make an impact on their futures.
If you’re ready to share those powerful ideas and opinions with your colleagues in the College, and apply your passion and leadership to help Advance Rheumatology!, become an ACR volunteer. No matter how much time you have to spare or what you feel best suited to do, the College has a role for you. The open volunteer positions are filled in November each year in conjunction with the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting. Standing Committee and Board of Director terms run for three years beginning at the Annual Meeting.
The College is involved in many activities, from advocacy and government affairs to ethics and finance, to communications and marketing, and with your particular background and expertise, there is a place for you. I recommend you review the descriptions of the committees and let us know where your strengths and interests lie. Include that as part of your nomination letter.
Although the College welcomes self-nominations, I strongly recommend that you send a recommendation letter from your division chair, your organization’s leadership, local rheumatology society or from your colleague who is already an ACR volunteer. The selection of individuals for open volunteer positions is aided by letters of recommendation that identify your strengths in leadership, team building and ability to complete time-sensitive activities.
There’s more good news: Volunteerism doesn’t have to mean a heavy time commitment or travel. There’s a new concept called microvolunteering. Microvolunteering is a way to influence change in small ways that, together with the efforts of your fellow microvolunteers, add up to big results. Microvolunteering consists of short-term, low-time-commitment tasks that contribute to our organization’s overall objectives. There is a wide array of microvolunteer positions and opportunities, and we welcome applications at any time, throughout the year.
Opportunities to Get Started
If you are still not sure you want to become a volunteer or want to get to know other ACR volunteers, here are some microvolunteering examples:
- Write a column for The Rheumatologist, sharing your unique experiences or viewpoints on current issues facing our subspecialty;
- Review website content for medical accuracy or applicability in current clinical settings;
- Help craft ACR position statements;
- Review abstracts;
- Test the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting app;
- Provide feedback on drafts of ACR quality measures;
- Send emails to lawmakers to support ACR advocacy efforts or in response to legislative crises;
- Join 100+ ACR/ARHP members and involved arthritis patients at the annual Advocates for Arthritis Fly-In event in Washington, D.C., where you can educate members of Congress about the issues facing rheumatology today and learn more about the legislative process on Capitol Hill; and/or
- Advance Rheumatology! closer to home by getting involved with the ACR’s state advocacy program. You can track legislation in your state government, provide legislative and regulatory testimony or comments, or work with regional coalitions to influence change. The ACR Key Contacts Program and state societies are an important part of the College’s efforts to improve patient access to care and help rheumatology thrive in the future.
These are just a few opportunities that can make a large difference in our organization’s efforts, but that don’t take up too much time in your schedule. The ACR professional staff can provide guidance and support to make these microvolunteerism tasks even easier to complete.
You have a unique perspective on the challenges facing rheumatology’s future and a passionate opinion that needs to be shared with others. You have advice for younger colleagues who are just starting out in their careers; you can provide wisdom & guidance that will make an impact on their future.
Whether you volunteer your time and energy to serving on a standing committee that shapes the association’s policies or priorities, apply your passion to advocacy at the state or federal level of government, act as a mentor to a young rheumatologist just starting out in their career or take a few minutes out of your week to write emails, the ACR/ARHP can use your help to Advance Rheumatology!