Earlier this month I received an email announcing the ACOG application for Committee service and I got to thinking about all of the exciting and different ways members can get involved with our organization. I also started to reminisce about my start with ACOG as a member of the Connecticut Section Advisory Council, many years ago. About the same time, I attended several Congressional Leadership Conferences and began to get a feel for the value of ACOG as the only organization that really represents ob-gyns across the country, as well as the patients we serve. That was in the late 1980’s, which started me down the path of holding various ACOG leadership positions; about 10 years later, I became section chair and a member of the District I Advisory Council, ultimately leading to the District I chair role in 2006.
Every step of the way, I had the opportunity to meet some amazing people from an ever-increasing geographical radius. As District I chair, I served with the other District chairs on ACOG’s Executive Board. At the national level, it works in many ways like it does at the section level. There is work to do, and if you want to be involved, you raise your hand and volunteer. ACOG has been a great way to give something back to the specialty that I love and the profession that I chose as my life’s work. So I continued to volunteer, worked on various committees, task forces and work groups from time to time, and became more involved than ever. I had the honor of being chosen for the office of secretary, my first national office, and served in that role for three years, learning more about ACOG, and myself. The rest is history as they say: before I knew it, I was President!
As much as I would love to take most of the credit for this amazing journey, it really goes to the many people who mentored me along the way. The list is too long to include here, but I appreciate every bit of advice I received from many incredibly talented and dedicated people I met along the way. I also appreciate the willingness of my family supporting me every step of this journey.
If you’re lucky, but more importantly, persistent, you can get involved…the earlier the better. Here are some ideas for how to do that. From education to advocacy to practice, the numerous ways Fellows can contribute to ACOG may be a bit daunting, so I’m breaking it down and highlighting some of the various opportunities available to you.
A great place to start is the Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting – ACOG’s celebration of groundbreaking science and clinical practice in the field of ob-gyn. It’s our signature meeting, and it’s not too early to start thinking about attending next year’s meeting in Washington, DC!
Attending district and section meetings are another way to get involved, meeting the leaders at your section and district levels. Start simply by attending, and don’t be shy about introducing yourself to your local and regional leaders. Once you’re hooked, like many of us were from the get-go, you will likely apply for official positions and opportunities to help out in various activities. Currently, there are over 500 officers in ACOG’s sections and districts!
Besides these options, there are many other opportunities specifically geared towards Junior Fellows and Medical Students. You can help them find mentors, form special interest groups and more. Keep in mind that many people in the current leadership of ACOG actually started at the Medical Student and Junior Fellow levels.
Are you interested in state and/or federal politics? Well then, our Government Affairs team has plenty of opportunities for you. ACOG’s 34th Annual Congressional Leadership Conference (CLC), the President’s Conference, is coming up in March. The CLC allows us ob-gyns to build and maintain lasting relationships with our U.S. Senators and Representatives and their staff.
ACOG’s Government Affairs Department offers several award programs and fellowships in State, Federal and Political advocacy and offers opportunities for both seasoned and new advocates to expand their advocacy and get recognition for impressive efforts. State legislative chairs, Junior Fellows, and section and district officers can visit the A-Team site to learn more about these programs and how to apply.
Another responsibility of the Government Affairs Department is to operate the only federal ob-gyn political action committee. The Department is responsible for PAC fundraising and administration, electoral analysis, and communication. Ob-GynPAC is overseen by the Ob-GynPAC Governing Committee, which meets annually at the CLC and by teleconference as needed. Ob-GynPAC is active in State and Federal races.
Media opportunities are also abundant through the Communications Department. If you have a particular area of expertise and would like to speak to members of the media when questions arise, simply contact ACOG’s Communications Staff.
Last but certainly not least, the opportunity that sparked this entire blog post: Committee service. These volunteer activities assist ACOG in accomplishing the mission to advance women’s health care. Personally, I’ve been a member of many ACOG Committees and have always found the service extremely rewarding and fulfilling. One thing–please don’t be disappointed if it takes a while to get on a committee. We have many great applicants and far too few openings… it usually takes more than one or two applications to make it. DON’T GIVE UP!
Now that you know about all of the tremendous opportunities to work with ACOG, you have your work cut out for you! As you move forward, don’t be overwhelmed and don’t forget–no matter what your passion is within ACOG, support and guidance are available from the ACOG national staff.