Committee involvement

October 2019 – Vol. 38, No. 9

An effective way to lead your profession, enhance your career, and build your professional network.

October 1 marked the start of the 2019-2020 term for new and reappointed AAO-HNS/F committee members. One month later, on November 1, the application and selection process for the 2020-2021 committee recruitment season begins. Why should AAO-HNS members be as interested as they are in serving on a committee or committee? What do they get out of participating?

Members of the AAO-HNS have an array of opportunities to impact the specialty by getting involved with the Academy’s initiatives. These opportunities are not only member benefits, but they also provide a valuable service to the specialty and are designed to fit any level of participation based on your availability.

However, one of the most popular and effective engagement activities is to join a committee—whether it’s an Academy or Foundation committee, a Section or Board of Governors (BOG) committee—there’s certainly a committee to interest every member.

Dozens of committees under the AAO-HNS/F umbrella provide the opportunity for members to collaborate with colleagues from around the world on crucial issues affecting the specialty. Build your professional network, stay on the cutting-edge of research and issues affecting the house of medicine, and earn honors points for your service.

But beyond the obvious benefits, members in many cases have seen their investment of time working on committees, task forces, and working groups become a pathway to leadership positions within the Academy and earn them greater “name recognition” (and professional opportunity) outside.

Over 800 AAO-HNS members serve on approximately 80+ committees (28 Academy, five BOG, 10 Education, seven Foundation, eight Advisory, nine Standing, 11 Steering, and four Women in Otolaryngology Section). This doesn’t count the significant number of task forces, working groups, and other single-purpose/time-limited groups. The committees are limited in the number of voting and nonvoting slots that are available relative to the size of the AAO-HNS/F membership, making each committee appointment a coveted volunteer opportunity.  It also means that serving on a committee is a serious commitment of time and effort—committee chairs strictly enforce meeting and conference call attendance and engagement expectations. 

With that in mind, every year brings significantly more applicants than there are available committee spots. If you didn’t receive an assignment this year, then show your interest in serving by attending as a guest to a committee that you’d like to become a member of (most meet at the Annual Meeting). Get to know the chair, vice chair, and the members. Volunteer for a committee project. This is certain to get the attention of the committee chair, and you will be remembered in the following year’s cycle when he or she selects the next group of committee members.

Committees are the pathway to leadership. Hear from your colleagues, who started their journey by applying to serve on a committee, which led to leadership opportunities.  They have a combined 64 years membership in the Academy and have invested a significant number of years serving on committees and within the AAO-HNS/F and society leadership.

Stacey T. Gray, MD

Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Boston, MA
An Academy member for 19 years, Dr. Gray currently serves as Committee Chair of the Rhinology and Allergy Education Committee and a member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee. She has previously served on 11 committees, including the WIO Research and Survey Committee, Education Steering Committee, Instruction Course Advisory Committee, WIO Program and Awards Committee, and Rhinology and Paranasal Sinus Committee.

What drove you to get involved with an Academy and/or section committee?
Dr. Gray:
At the start of my practice, I appreciated how much the Academy offered in regard to education and community. I wanted to be more involved and figured that committee membership was the way to start.

What have you gotten out of your committee experience (so far)?
Dr. Gray: I really appreciate the camaraderie and fellowship among the members of the committee. It gives me an opportunity to interact with colleagues from across the country and gain insight into different perspectives.

Stacey L. Ishman, MD, MPH

Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH
An Academy member for 18 years, Dr. Ishman currently serves as Committee Chair of the General Otolaryngology Education Committee and member of the Education Steering Committee. She has served on more than two dozen committees and study groups and has held Academy, BOG, and state society leadership positions.

What drove you to get involved with an Academy and/or section committee?
Dr. Ishman: I have always found that joining a committee or an organization whose values are the same as my own allows me to connect with my peers and to devote my energy to work that I truly value. That was the case when I first became involved with the Academy through both the sections and as a committee member.

What have you gotten out of your committee experience (so far)?
Dr. Ishman: As an introvert, I find that being part of a committee gives me a natural connection to the other people in my specialty and allows me to feel a sense of community. It has contributed greatly to my feeling that the Academy is my organizational home as well as to contribute to both the education and advocacy missions of our Academy.

Albert L. Merati, MD

UW Medicine’s Head and Neck Surgery Center, Seattle, WA
An Academy member for 27 years, Dr. Merati currently serves as Immediate Past President of the AAO-HNS/F.  Previously, he has served on over two dozen Academy and BOG committees, as well as state and specialty society committees and has held numerous leadership positions.

What did you get out of your significant Academy committee involvement over the years?
Dr. Merati: In the early part of my career, serving on AAO-HNS/F committees offered both intrinsic and extrinsic benefits. I was immediately connected to like-minded and some not so like-minded colleagues, had a chance to speak up and be heard on topics I was passionate about, and also learned how to work with colleagues over time and at a distance— a critical tool in today’s professional lives.

How did that inspire and propel you into the leadership ranks of the Academy, ultimately culminating as the organization’s President from 2018-2019?

Important dates to keep in mind when applying for a committee appointment

November 1, 2019
Call for Committee Applications
Including completion of the AAO-HNS Financial and Intellectual Relationship Disclosure Form

January 1, 2020
Committee Applications close

January 15, 2020
Academy dues must be paid by this date

Early June 2020
Appointment announcements sent

October 1, 2020
Committee term begins

(Dates are subject to change.)

Dr. Merati: I confess that I also saw it as an opportunity to learn and lead; by the time I sat through a few meetings, I could tell who was good at getting stuff done, what ideas worked and what didn’t, and why it was so for each of these cases. These critical political and interpersonal lessons were all driven into my head within our own AAO-HNS/F committee structure. So, get connected. Join a committee. Be ready to work.

A word about disclosures

The American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and the American Academy of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Foundation (AAO-HNS/F) support fair and unbiased participation of our volunteers in Academy/Foundation activities. Any actual or potential conflicts of interest must be identified and managed. All direct financial and intellectual relationships with a company that directly impact and/or might conflict with Academy/Foundation activities must be disclosed, or you must disclose that you have no direct financial relationships. Other relationships that could cause private interests to conflict with professional interests must also be identified. This policy is intended to openly identify any potential conflict so that any potential bias may be identified and the risk thereof mitigated. Failure or refusal to complete the disclosure form or disclose all relevant relationships will result in disqualification to participate in the AAO-HNS/F specified committee or activity.

Generally, you must file a disclosure when you apply to serve on a committee, on an annual basis after your initial filing, and/or whenever there has been a change in a financial and/or intellectual relationship with a company. The disclosure process is quick and easy to complete online, and most individuals can be compliant in little more than a minute (slightly more time if you have a series of relationships to report).