The month of October has taken me from one end of the country to the other as I have traveled to AMA headquarters, two regional meetings and the Western States Retreat.
This whirlwind began with my first stop to Chicago, where President-elect Sarah Sanders, Managing Director Pat Troy, Alliance Health Education Initiative Chairman Barb Hanas and I organized convention trunks and stacks of boxes in our new conference room at the AMA’s new high-rise building. Our space on the 40th floor has floor to ceiling glass windows that offer a fabulous view of the windy city’s skyline and Lake Michigan. We agreed that doing our work in this building every day would be pretty nice, if only we lived in Chicago. The AMA support staff was very helpful facilitating our requests, especially John O’Keefe and Melissa Monaco-Hancock. Just a few weeks in their new offices, they took time to assist us promptly and efficiently.
Ted Grudzinski, AMA photographer, a longtime friend to the Alliance, took new official photographs of us and captured moments in the moving process as a follow up from last summer when we packed up our old office. We also arranged with videographer Barry Cohn to tape promotional segments for use on the AMA Alliances website, for membership recruitment and the 2014 Annual Meeting and Leadership Development Conference.
From Chicago, I flew to Omaha for the North Central States Regional meeting. Also attending from the AMA Alliance Board were Mary Beth Ellison, Director, and Cami Pond, Regional Meetings Task Force Chairman. Jeanie Owen was local hostess and conference co-coordinator with Grace Wellman from Sioux Falls, SD. Professional facilitator and Alliance member Sharon Chontos kept the meeting on “track”…which is an apt description since the theme was, “Keep Your Alliance Train Running”. This was the most interactive and participatory meeting I have attended.
North Centrals’ meeting has a history of developing leaders by providing opportunities for them to give presentations among their peers. The sharing among attendees was affirming and informative. By identifying challenges, discussing alternatives and solutions, these leaders were equipped to go home with ideas they can implement and I came home feeling confident and encouraged by the commitment of these leaders.
The second week of October was the first Northeast Regional Meeting which was held at the picturesque Cranston Resort in Lenox, MA. With the trees dressed in the colors of autumn, the Berkshire Mountains provided a backdrop of incredible beauty. Massachusetts Medical Society Alliance President Paula Madison, Marie-Christine Reti, and M.M.S. Alliance staff brought in outstanding speakers which produced an inspiring program.
The M.M.S. Director of Federal & Community Relations, Ms. Alex Calcagno, presented a dynamic legislative update. Volunteers in Medicine Clinic founder, Dr. Matthew Mandel, spoke on the outcomes of volunteer medicine. Dr. David Crandall, Medical Director of the Spaulding Rehab Center, shared his experience in overseeing the care of victims from the Boston Marathon Bombing, and Dr. Stacey Potts spoke about “Engaging the Family of Medicine: A Multigenerational Approach”. Julie Newman, AMA Alliance Director, and I presented programs on “The Intersection of Leadership and Mentorship” and “Leading and Learning in the 21st Century.” Sarah Sanders, Rosemary Xavier, AMA Alliance Treasurer and Cami Pond were in attendance, supporting our efforts.
The third regional meeting I attended was the Western States retreat, a small group planning time for an April 2015 region wide event. Held at the mountain home of Ann Takasaki’s aunt near Park City Utah, it was the perfect setting at 7,800 ft. elevation! I kept humming (to myself) the Barbra Streisand song, “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever” because the expansive vista of the valley and the snow-capped mountains was breathtaking. Ann really knows how to throw a house party and thought of everything. She led the attendees in working hard to visualize a family centered conference. Beth Irish, AMA Alliance Legislative Chairman, helped to keep focus and move the group forward while working out event topics, schedule and potential speakers. Our AMA Alliance Secretary Pat Klettke and Director Nancy Schneider were part of this planning group as well as Utah Past Presidents Kathleen Alder and Katharine Wallin.
The best part of this retreat was having medical student spouses join us from the Medical Student Alliance group at the University of Utah. Michelle Chestnutt with 6 month old Henry, Melissa Lewis and Melissa Rigby came for the day. I wanted to adopt them all as extra daughters and Henry as a third grandson!
During the meeting we received very good news about the birth of a healthy baby boy to our Resident Physician Spouse board representative, Liz Walker. Caleb Broadbent is a beautiful, healthy baby joining his sisters, Emma and Lydia, and father Brett, who live in Salt Lake City.
October isn’t over yet! My travels will find me in Destin, FL over Halloween for the Southern Medical Association Alliance meeting. I’ll be sorry to miss greeting little children who come to my home trick or treating, but it will be good to celebrate SMAA President Kathy Johns’ year and support our friend, Susan Rish, as she gets installed. We often travel to state meetings with our SMAA colleagues, which is a nice bonus of this office.
I am thankful for safe travels and good health, so far, and for a supportive husband, who takes me to the airport, picks me up, and asks me where I’d like to go to dinner when I’m too tired to even think about cooking. Bill even ran the vacuum, did laundry, and ironed shirts. I think I’ll keep this man! I know that I couldn’t do this job without his support…or the support of our Board of Directors and our members, whose dues help make our Speakers’ Bureau trips possible.
It is an honor to be your president.
P.S. Interested in seeing the “who, what and where” of my most recent travels? Check out the AMA Alliance Facebook page for posts and photos of the people who made the meetings so special.
The alliance’s stop America’s Violence Everywhere program began eighteen years ago. Our members have worked with passion and commitment in their communities to make this signature project a vital outreach for making a difference in the lives of children and their mothers. Millions of children have heard the message that “hands are not for hitting” when their hands are traced by a kind volunteer. They’ve heard that they can handle bullies, that they are be respectful of others who are different than they are, that they can make good, responsible choices in how they respond if angered.
This project was never set up to be evaluated as a scientific study and as a Masters’ degree nurse, I have often wondered what difference this program makes or if our collective efforts are worthwhile.
Here’s what I know. I know that a small boy hospitalized in my hometown shouted out, “Daddy, hands are not for hitting!” when his father started to strike his mother.
I know that Alliance members in Chattanooga-Hamilton County Tennessee have recruited never-before involved members to help with the preschool health fair where 500 children get our materials in one day…and those members are witness to the power of working with other physician spouses to do good in their hometowns.
I know that my colleagues on the National Health Collaborative on Violence and Abuse applauded the presentation about our SAVE Today efforts when I shared this project with them.
I know that my passion as an Alliance volunteer has been refueled every time I talk about it or write about the impact SAVE Today has had in my life.
I believe that every child deserves to grow in an environment where they are loved, where the adults treat each other’s with kindnesses and respect, and where they are taught at home and by others who care that violence is never the answer.
May the work by Alliance members across the country continue to teach these important messages.
This week is the beginning of the “have suitcase, will travel” time. Our Communications Committee, ably led by Ann Anderson, encouraged me to write about the Speakers’ Bureau trips I am making. So, you might wonder, how does our Speakers’ Bureau work? Usually, the state president submits a request through our website months in advance of the meeting. The requests are forwarded to me and it’s my responsibility to assign a national leader to attend. I wrote about my first official trip as president when I went to Florida in July.
On Sunday, September 8, I drove 100 miles from my home in Knoxville to Chattanooga for the TN Update meeting. I can’t think of a better way to begin this fall travel season than by starting in my own state where I am surrounded by tremendous support. No national leader could ask for more encouragement than my TN friends have given me.
President Heidi Dulebohn conducts a meeting with professional expertise, a smile on her face, and with the right words. She makes everyone feel comfortable because she is so at ease. We shared what each county is doing. Talk about inspirational and energizing! We were all laughing as we exchanged ideas and caught up on each other’s news. There were some first timers there and because of Heidi’s get acquainted activity, soon all were friends.
Heidi is making it a mission to travel across the state and visit as many medical society meetings as possible with the TMA. Many times we find that spouses and physicians don’t know about the alliance and that will change as Heidi continues her travels. Of course, we are hoping that there will be new alliance groups getting organized as a result of her diligent efforts.
For those who come to Update as an annual event, it is a time of renewal…both of friendships and spirit as we uplift each other and celebrate our common bonds.
What does it take for this to happen? Effort. Effort by each person to make arrangements for their responsibilities at home, to put aside other obligations, perhaps even taking time off from work, making sure their spouse knows what’s in the refrigerator, that shirts are ironed, school clothes are clean, and pickups are organized for children’s activities, and pets’ care is arranged. Getting away wasn’t necessarily easy, but everyone was in agreement that these 24 hours were well spent.
Renewed and refreshed, these physician spouses went back to Knoxville, Johnson City, Kingsport, Jackson, Martin, Clarksville, Jonesborough, and Chattanooga.
Next year, I hope we’ll see more faces from middle and west Tennessee. The alliances in our two largest cities disbanded. I can’t help but think that if they had been at Update they, too, might have found the inspiration they were missing.
On Monday, I was surprised and humbled when they voted to make a donation in my honor to the AMA Alliance Grassroots Honor Fund. Getting this medical student scholarship fund endowed remains at the top of my list for our national organization’s accomplishments before next June. It is hard to put into words how much this commitment by my Tennessee Alliance friends means to me. But, that’s another story for another Volunteer Connection.
In Alliance service,
by AMA Alliance President Jo Terry
As a resident of Tennessee, the Volunteer State, it seems appropriate to use the word, ‘volunteer’ in the title for sharing an update with you. It is symbolic to use ‘volunteer’ because Alliance members are the volunteers whose community efforts make such a difference in this country. I was reminded of that this past weekend while In Orlando for the Florida Medical Association Alliance Annual meeting.
Outgoing FMAA President Joan Harmon asked the county presidents in attendance to informally share news of their activities. It was the best part of the meeting! I could hardly write fast enough on my iPad notes program and I am a good typist.
Florida is a very big state and it would make this column way too long for me to detail everything, so here are some highlights.
From the Panhandle to Miami/Dade Co., Florida physician spouses have held a wide variety of fun, family and couple -oriented events to support and celebrate together. Clambakes, wine tastings, Back to School parties, a hoedown BBQ, to a rotating seat dinner where you DO end up next to your spouse at the end of the night (!!) I can’t imagine more fun. These surely sound like great ways to attract and keep members! Just hearing about them made me wish I were close enough to attend.
Hillsborough County is blessed to have Gerry Gutierrez , who at age 90,-that’s right-volunteers to offer breast cancer awareness education at Sears every month. I wonder how many lives have been saved by her tireless efforts.
Health Promotion efforts include “Hands Are Not for Hitting” and other parts of the AMA Alliance SAVE program in local schools, a “youTube” bilingual education program for parents about mandatory immunizations, and a theatrical troupe presentation about prescription drug abuse targeting high school students.
Across the state there are fundraising events for Project Access, nursing and medical student scholarships, and other worthwhile philanthropic causes.
Jeani Taliaferro from St. John’s County, is the “mother” of their Junior Alliance in Medicine, known as JAM-what a great name! Their inspiring projects and the mentoring that the teenagers provide for the younger kids are enough to make me want to shout, “YES!”
Last, but not least, Miami/Dade Co., home of incoming President Sandi Chayman, has a fabulous Doctors Day event that is a real celebration of their physicians.
To view all of the pictures from the meeting: http://www.flickr.com/photos/31281891@N03/sets/72157634829718656/
I had a fun and productive visit to Florida where I heard firsthand about the contributions their Alliance volunteers make across the Sunshine State. I’ll share more about the visit in a future column. Congratulations to Joan and best wishes to Sandi.
Your input and suggestions are welcome as we seek to reach across the miles and make an Alliance Volunteer Connection.
All the best,