As a District officer, I sometimes call myself a “human highlighter.” Why? Because that’s the easiest and most effective method I’ve found to get others more involved in ACOG. For me, being a human highlighter means drawing others’ attention to ACOG by pointing out meaningful experiences and events and telling others what’s great about them. By encouraging others to get more involved in ACOG and giving them concrete ways to do it, I’ve found myself getting even more involved with ACOG while also helping my District grow! If you’re looking for more ways to get involved with ACOG and motivate others to do the same, read on for some tips that my District and I have found useful.
In order to be successful, efforts to get people more involved in ACOG must be purposeful. One of my favorite strategies to get others more involved is to give them the opportunity to experience the events that got me so excited about being involved in ACOG. I encourage others to become resident reporters so that they can attend the Annual Clinical and Scientific Meeting; apply for funding to attend different local and national meetings; and ensure that when our District puts on an event in our community, everyone who attends knows it’s an ACOG event. I’ve seen firsthand that when my fellow ACOG members experience ACOG events for themselves, they become more excited about being involved with ACOG, too!
ACOG events are a great way to get people outside of ACOG to support our organization and to spread the word about the important work ACOG is doing. In Wisconsin, there are many areas, communities, and conversations that I don’t have access to. But when we bring an ACOG event to a local community and spread the word about ACOG and the work we’re doing to everyone who attends, we can extend our reach significantly by giving people information to bring back to their communities.
Another way to help draw more people to ACOG is to be more purposeful about increasing diversity. In order to bring all kinds of people into ACOG and show them that ACOG is for them, they need to see people like themselves not only in Sections and Districts but also in Section and District leadership positions. If you’re in a leadership position and are looking for other members to bring up through the ranks, make sure you’re looking not just at the outspoken, easily visible people in the front row, but at the people in the corners of the room, who you may not know as well (or at all!) but who can bring their professional knowledge and their unique, diverse perspective to the table and enrich your discussions. Diversity doesn’t just happen; it needs to be cultivated intentionally and consciously. And when diversity is consciously cultivated, we’re all better for it, and ACOG becomes stronger as an organization.
One thing I’d ask everyone to understand and share in order to get more people involved is our advocacy. ACOG has the potential to accomplish incredible feats through advocacy not only because of the expertise and passion of our members but also because of the Government Relations staff at ACOG national, who understand the way that Congress works and can help us make real progress for our specialty and our patients. My time with ACOG has given me many chances to learn how our government works and how our advocacy can make a difference, even when things seem hopeless. I recall leaving the 2018 fly-in in tears after a meeting with a representative that my Junior Fellow companions and I thought went terribly, thinking that the bill we discussed would never pass. To my surprise, it did! During my Gellhaus Fellowship, I had the chance to ask the Government Relations team what had happened. Their answer? ACOG did! Talking to passionate, knowledgeable ACOG members and then discussing that new knowledge with other representatives had changed our representative’s mind and allowed ACOG to get a huge win. If others could have that same experience, I’m confident that they’d become more enthusiastic and more hopeful about the legislative process and feel more motivated to advocate for policies that ACOG supports.
In the end, giving others the opportunity to become ACOG fans is the best way to spread the word about ACOG and get everyone—both inside and outside of the organization—involved. I encourage all of you to advocate for your fellow members to attend more ACOG events for themselves and consider putting on or volunteering to put on ACOG events for their local community. When others see the benefits ACOG offers and the potential for change that ACOG has, they become more enthusiastic about ACOG itself—and you will, too!
Talia Coney, MD
District VI Junior Fellow Chair