3. Show your interest in the ACR by volunteering for activities that don’t involve the nominations process: Participate in an advocacy day in Washington, D.C. The ACR will foot the bill for your travel expenses and you might be able to sway a member of congress to support your position on a key piece of legislation. Become active in your state rheumatology organization and help it to join our new Affiliate Society Council. Get involved with the REF as a link to patients who may want to support cutting-edge research and training of new rheumatologists. You’ll get noticed as a leader and a doer, someone who needs to be placed on an ACR committee.
4.Don’t give up if you aren’t selected the first time you volunteer: There are more qualified members who want to help the ACR than there are positions. And, undoubtedly, the Nominations Committee makes mistakes from time to time by failing to select ideal candidates for open slots. Plan to re-apply the next year, and feel free to talk to ACR staff or volunteers about how to bolster or clarify your credentials.
5. Realize that you have to crawl before you walk: A position as an ACR officer is not a realistic initial assignment for a new volunteer. More often you will start as a member of a subcommittee or task force, then a member of one or two of the standing committees. Every three years one member of a committee moves up to serve as its chair. Some, but not all, of the outgoing chairs take seats on the ACR board. Officers have typically had numerous prior assignments in the ACR (and often also the REF), and have had to prove their ability, versatility, teamwork, and perseverance.
ACR Elections Explained
Some ACR members wonder why ACR officers aren’t selected through contested elections, as in some other professional organizations. I’ve even heard one member compare the ACR leadership to the former Soviet Politburo. However, it is truly a valid question that deserves a thoughtful answer. One advantage of our current system is that it attracts leaders who would rather function as a team, following a group-driven agenda rather than a personal mission. We polled the current officers as to whether they would have run for an ACR office if it meant opposing one of their colleagues, and not one would have done so. A second advantage is the ability to provide a consistent mix of academics and practitioners on the leadership team, who collectively possess the broad range of skills that we need to tackle the myriad tasks of the ACR. Third, the ACR staff much prefers the current system; it allows them to plan well into the future without the risk of u-turns in direction on an annual basis.