Growing Future Leaders
by David S. Bronheim, M.D.
Over the course of the nearly 10 years that I have been sitting on the dais at the meeting of the NYSSA House of Delegates, I have made an observation that has given me pause: There is just way too much gray hair in the room. This is not just true for the House of Delegates, but also for leadership positions throughout the NYSSA and PGA.
It does not appear to me that the voices and opinions of our younger members are being heard, nor are your energies being properly harnessed. Indeed, I have found that many of our most promising future leaders look at the pathways to leadership within the NYSSA and choose to spend your energies elsewhere. With this in mind, it has been my primary goal the last few years and during my term as president to make the changes necessary to promote more active participation from our younger members and to shorten the pathways to leadership within the society.
To that end, we have already revised the bylaws and administrative procedures governing the NYSSA’s board and committees as well as the subcommittees of the PGA. The NYSSA’s senior officers such as secretary, treasurer, assistant secretary, assistant treasurer, and speaker are now limited to six-year terms. Chair positions on NYSSA committees are now three-year terms, although committee chairs may be re-elected. PGA subcommittee chairs will now serve for only three years as well. We’re also adding vice chairs to all NYSSA committees, and for the PGA subcommittees we are creating chairmen emeritus positions. By establishing term limits and these additional positions within our committees, we preserve institutional memory, maintain a continuum of knowledge and experience, and create a structure properly organized for mentoring and developing our future leaders. We are making room at the table. Now it’s time for our younger members to step up and seize from your “gray-haired elders” the reins of your society.
A more inclusive and representative leadership is merely the first step. Organized medicine within the U.S. is facing a changing landscape. Membership in medical societies and attendance at educational meetings are in decline. The NYSSA and PGA are weathering these challenges much better than many other organizations, but without continuous, organic change, just exchanging older leadership for younger would be the equivalent of rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. To prevent sclerosis, we need to hear from all our members about what you need and want from the NYSSA.
One of my first actions as president was to establish a strategic planning committee that will examine and, if necessary, redirect the NYSSA’s activities. This committee, chaired by President-elect Dr. Vilma Joseph and Vice President Dr. Dick Wissler, is tasked with evaluating the NYSSA from a longer-term perspective with the goal of better serving the interests and needs of our members. Your input is key to the success of this committee and, ultimately, the future success of the NYSSA. To encourage your feedback, we will be reaching out to all our members to ask how we can better serve you. In the meantime, you don’t need to wait to be contacted. We welcome your input now. Tell us what the NYSSA is not doing that you believe we should be doing. Tell us what we are doing well, but also how we could do better. Share your comments with us by contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Executive Director Stuart Hayman at email@example.com.
Over the course of the year, we will be introducing you to the new leaders of the NYSSA’s various committees. If you haven’t done so already, please consider joining one of these committees and being a more active participant in any or all of our activities. The NYSSA will benefit from your knowledge, energy and desire to make things better for yourselves and your patients. Every committed member makes a difference.
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