Common Values and Common Voice… A Big Tent
By Randall Flick, MD, MPH, FAAP
As I approach the end of my term as your society president I looked back to see what I tried to communicate in my first president’s message. The title of that message was; “Common Values and a Common Voice speaking for the Specialty.”
It occurs to me that that title and message is more important now than two years ago. Before I talk about the importance of a common voice and shared values let me take a moment to thank the team that put together our most recent meeting in Phoenix. The meeting was an incredible success thanks to the equally incredible team that organized it. Peggy McNaull, Robert Bryskin, Melissa Brooks, Titilopema Aina, Tarun Bhalla, Elliot Grigg along with Toyin Olutoye from the Research Committee partnered for the SPA. Scott Dingeman and Luis Zabala organized things for the SPPM and CCAS, respectively. Rita Agarwal and Courtney Hardy from the AAP Section on Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine also partnered to help ensure the meeting was a success. Of course, nothing this good happens without the support of our partners at Ruggles. Kim, Stewart and the entire Ruggles team are the foundation on which the society rests. I thank you all on behalf of the membership; the leadership of all the various sections, committees and interests groups and the board whose members devote countless hours to the task of balancing the often competing interests of an increasingly diverse Society.
Now, to the “big tent.” As many of you are aware in advance of our meeting in Phoenix, the Society leadership assembled a diverse group of current and past leaders to begin the process of planning for the future of the Society and, by extension, the specialty. That effort was led by Bill Greeley, a former board president, Smith Award recipient, CHOP anesthesia chief and most importantly, passionate advocate for the Society.
The process was robust, thorough and wide ranging, identifying a variety of issues that will impact the Society in years to come. Bill very kindly agreed to not only conduct the strategic planning session, but also oversee the process from beginning to end. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. I am hopeful we can complete the planning process and deliver a report to the board before my term ends this fall.
As the planning process progressed it became increasingly clear that the enormous growth within the Society has created many opportunities. Opportunities exist that we never would have dreamed of just a decade ago, such as establishing a communications capability that could allow us to speak directly to families, non-member physicians, government and others so that we truly are the voice of pediatric anesthesia. We also now have the capacity to partner effectively with other societies around the world and with organizations with which we share a common interest such as the American College of Surgeons, WFSA and, of course the AAP.
However, with opportunity comes challenge. The ability to communicate as the voice of pediatric anesthesia or to partner effectively requires first and foremost that we, as an increasingly diverse society, are always mindful of the importance of compromise and process. As John Adams said, “we are a government of laws and not of men.” We are a society that rests on a foundation of its bylaws with an elected leadership who are servants of the membership, constrained by the processes established within those bylaws. Reaching consensus around a challenging issue is always difficult, requiring willingness to compromise and strict adherence to process.
The Society and specialty are faced and will be faced in the future with issues that generate great passion and even division, but no issue is more important than a strict adherence to our core values of unity, transparency, compromise, inclusion and consensus. The tent must always be large enough to accommodate all perspectives but when we leave the tent, we must do so together.
In my first president’s letter I ended with the following:
“As a society we are always stronger when we come together as colleagues to speak with a single respectful voice about those things that first and foremost advance the mission of our specialty and the great organization that speaks for it.”
Because of you, the membership, SPA is indeed a great organization that I have the enormous privilege to serve.
Thank you for the honor.