September 30, 2010
ASHRM 30th Anniversary Message for September: Strength in members
When I joined ASHRM in 1989, nine years after its formation, it had already established a reputation as the organization to join for education and insight on the field of healthcare risk management. After practicing in a law firm for several years, my interest in healthcare law led me to a job in a hospital, and the operation of a self-insurance program and a fledgling risk management department had been included in my "other duties as assigned." Obviously, my prior training and experience had done little to prepare me for such duties, but ASHRM was able to provide the resources I needed.
Since that time, three things have continued to impress me about ASHRM
Generosity of volunteers: The first is the amount of work that is done for the organization by volunteers. From presentations at the Annual Conference to participation on committees to service on the Board of Directors, ASHRM draws much of its strength and vitality from the efforts of its members. From Journal articles to monographs to comment letters to the Joint Commission and federal agencies, ASHRM members have generously shared their knowledge and expertise for the advancement of the profession. The fact that much of that knowledge and expertise has been gained on the front lines of healthcare risk management makes it especially valuable for those of us who are seeking "real world" solutions to our problems. Our members have also provided leadership in areas such as disclosure, patient safety and enterprise risk management.
Ease of participation: The second thing that I have found impressive is how easy it is to become part of that volunteer process. I have been a member of several national organizations, and my attempts to participate at the committee level in those organizations have met with limited success. However, when I signed up for an ASHRM committee for the first time in 1991, I was pleased to learn that I had been appointed to the Bylaws Committee. Although members may not always be appointed to their first choice, a significant effort is put into matching members who volunteer for committees with their expressed areas of interest. For me, some of my best experiences have come when I did not get appointed to the committee that was my first choice, but one that exposed me to new ideas or concepts outside of my "comfort zone" as a risk manager.
Willingness to share: And finally, what I find most impressive is the number of ASHRM members who are willing and eager to reach out to their peers, sharing their knowledge and experience as well as their understanding of what risk managers face on a daily basis. For example, when I arrived at the first meeting of the Bylaws Committee, the other members welcomed me and made me feel like a valued part of the committee, even though I was a newcomer to ASHRM (and to the field of risk management). That first positive experience has kept me involved in ASHRM through the years.
Your 30th Anniversary contribution
Today, however, time is tight and volunteering is not as easy for most of us as it was even five years ago. Nevertheless, member participation continues to be important in order for ASHRM to remain strong and continue to meet the needs of its members. Therefore, I ask each of you to consider one or more of following as your 30th Anniversary contribution to ASHRM, so that we can continue to celebrate the success of this organization in the years ahead:
- If you have never participated on a committee, please sign up when the call for participation comes out this fall. Also, remember that there are many interesting and worthwhile committees besides the Annual Conference Committee, which usually gets more volunteers than it has slots to fill!
- When you are appointed to a committee, make your ongoing participation a priority. If your experience is similar to mine, you can usually find the time for things that are important to you, and you will discover that the benefits of active participation outweigh any sacrifices you may have to make.
- If you are appointed as a chair of a committee, be mindful of the fact that today's committee members may be tomorrow's leaders. Make your members feel welcome and encourage their involvement in the committee's activities.
- If you have a great idea for an educational program, please submit it to the Annual Conference Committee this fall. The committee is always looking for new topics and new speakers.
- If you always wanted to be a published author, consider writing an article for the Journal of Healthcare Risk Management. Not only will you be able to share your knowledge and experience with your peers, you will also be working toward your professional designation as a Fellow or Distinguished Fellow of ASHRM.
- Finally, if you have been in healthcare risk management for at least three years, consider getting your CPHRM certification. It can demonstrate to others just how capable you are in your profession.
Thank you and good luck!
Paul English Smith, JD, CPHRM, DFASHRM
ASHRM Past President