Robert Bramante, MD, FACEP
Director, Emergency Ultrasound at Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center
Councillor, ACEP Emergency Ultrasound Section
Regularly this question arises from residents, medical students and colleagues who are interested in getting more involved and often have some good ideas for advancing our field. However, the individuals who may be very active in their institution or locally do not know how to go about taking this knowledge and experience to the next level - whether it be regionally or nationally. Personally, the worst thing to hear from our colleagues is the belief they do not have anything to offer. The most important thing is to recognize that everyone has something to offer. Whether it be a new technique, an idea for improving membership, newsletter section topics, ACEP Council resolutions, grant writing ability, research questions, or an interest in learning more about Clinical Ultrasound.
The answer to the first part of the question is simple: YES! If you have an interest in ultrasound, be part of the section. If you know others who are interested, get them to join the section. Take advantage of the section resources including the email list-serve, the forum at ACEP.org, Sonoguide, the extensive information about running and maintaining an ultrasound program, and of course this award winning newsletter. Creating and maintaining this array of material requires a number of interested members. Additionally, the section is regularly reviewing new information and processing it for the members. Examples include the yearly billing/coding update, the journal watch summary information in our newsletter, and the updates sent through the email list-serve. This newsletter has multiple section editor positions and article writing opportunities for members looking to be more involved.
On to the question of, “how do I get involved?” Two easy steps: show up and express interest. We always need members to volunteer to write an article, offer to help with ongoing projects, or join a subcommittee. It has been my experience that section members and leadership have been welcoming and excited to have other physicians involved. Often times this leads to mentoring relationships and further exposure to leaders in the field and more involvement. As you get further involved and network with other section members consider running for section leadership positions. Even if you feel you are not currently ready, seek out those leaders and you will find we are all willing and excited to speak with and advise other members. My best advice is find someone at your institution, or regionally, that is involved and just make contact. A simple email or phone call can lead to an array of opportunities. I think members are surprised how quickly involvement can snowball from there. The section is regularly working on new projects. Accreditation, the fellowship curriculum, residency milestones revisions, governmental affairs, workflow improvements, assisting with section grant applications, and many other projects are all ongoing activities that are regularly looking for more hands, more eyes and more ideas to continuously improve our section and our care of patients.
After looking at if you should and how to get involved the next question is, “do I have the time?” The time commitment can be small or significant depending how involved you want to become. Generally, most people find that the relationships developed and doing something you are interested in makes it easier to find the time. I have found that I do not mind spending time doing the activities I enjoy and will often prioritize them since they are interesting to me, help my career, and hopefully help the section and emergency medicine as a whole.
While the advice often given is to just say “yes” to opportunities as a way to get involved my recommendation would be to seek out and find the things that interest you most and try to get involved there. The worst thing that can happen is getting involved in a way that is not enjoyable, interesting or meaningful to you. However, in the event that happens you now have contacts and resources to get connected with those with similar interests to your own.