I’m fresh from a strategic planning meeting for the Association of PAs in Cardiovascular Surgery (APACVS) where we talked about who we are and who we want to be. There was one resource that enabled or limited every discussion and initiative at that meeting: people.
We have active board members who are creative and capable. PAs by definition need to be problem solvers, and we do a great job of identifying a task and accomplishing a goal. However, our associations are limited by the number of people willing to take a leadership role. Why aren’t more talented and capable PAs stepping up?
Below I tackle some possible reasons why and explain that getting involved isn’t as hard as you think.
No time to spare.
It may be true that you are busy in today’s fast-paced world. Your personal and professional responsibilities seem to be spinning out of control. Mine, too. However, your associations are working hard to find creative ways for you to be involved on any level.
AAPA is working on goal-directed and time-limited volunteer groups. And APACVS has opportunities for you to join a committee and listen in on conference calls to dip your toe in the water.
We are not asking you to take on a part-time job. While it is true that people do donate that much time, we are asking you to grab an oar and pull with the group.
I have nothing to offer.
Some believe that they are just a humble clinical PA who has no concept of organizational leadership. But that defines most of us as we entered leadership. I can say that PA associations have been an MBA for me. It is amazing what you learn by starting with an interest, having an idea, and being given the support to see how that idea works in the real world. If you have an interest and can spend some time, then you have exactly what we are looking for.
I only care about one issue.
There are several PAs I know who came to leadership because they were annoyed at something. It may be that you have a problem with a particular regulatory issue. Or perhaps you feel that PAs from your specialty or experience are underrepresented.
Start by writing a letter to the president of your association. Tell them what you think. Give them solutions for how you think your issue should be resolved. And offer to help be a part of the solution with your time and ideas. I would be shocked if you did not get a reply and an offer to work on the problem.
I have never been asked.
Some volunteer for their professional association because they had a personal experience with a leader who pursued them for leadership. That was my experience.
Consider this your personal invitation to join our efforts. By reading my words, you now have a personal connection to me. I like to think that I am the easiest person in the world to contact. You can start with email@example.com or on Twitter @djbunnell. If you need a few more ways, you can find me on LinkedIn and the APACVS website.
I am working on a lighted signal that can be seen over the city at night as well.
David Bunnell, MSHS, PA-C, is a PA in cardiothoracic surgery in Washington, D.C. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Association for PAs in Cardiovascular Surgery.
See also: The Cardiothoracic PA Elevator Speech