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President’s Message: Enhancing Society Flexibility by Tapping a KEG

Professional organizations are often built upon structures that support both organizational and member needs. Unsurprisingly, even highly effective structures may not readily embrace flexibility in meeting rapidly evolving needs or responding to novel perspectives. Nonetheless, finding a durable mechanism that can fluidly adapt to unique perspectives or foci is an important imperative for organizations that wish to meet emerging member challenges.

The Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) believes in meeting member needs in a variety of ways. Members are familiar with some of these, including the Fundamental Critical Care Support (FCCS) line of educational materials, which continually releases new courses in response to member needs, the latest of which are FCCS: Obstetrics, FCCS: Resource Limited, and FCCS: Surgical. The Society also has enhanced the Strategic Planning Process to better engage members in developing and submitting new proposals. However, members may be less familiar with the Society’s newest approach to engagement, the Knowledge Education Group (KEG). Let’s explore how to “tap a KEG” by understanding what a KEG is and does, as well as how to access an existing KEG.

KEGs are different than committees, task forces, or work groups in important ways.

First, KEGs are informal groups of members who all share a common interest.

Second, the KEG does not have a formal “charge” from the Society outlining a specific task to be completed. In this way, KEGs are free to pursue knowledge or education deemed important or of interest in whichever way they believe is most ideal.

Third, unlike groups with a formal charge – and therefore directed resources – KEGs are not underpinned by staff support or funding. Instead, KEGs are potent sources of energy, drive, and ingenuity from which novel Strategic Planning Proposals may spring. In fact, with the changes in the Strategic Planning process that send Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to members in the fall, KEGs may be uniquely positioned to address emerging areas for exploration.

Fourth, because KEGs are self-assembling and do not require completion of a volunteer application for membership, they are fabulous sources of potentially unknown or unengaged talent.

Fifth, because KEGs generally enjoy membership across SCCM Sections, multiprofessional participation is a KEG hallmark. This is especially important as diversity is highly prized in multiple venues and is a domain in which the Society excels! Currently, SCCM recognizes six KEGs: Obstetrics, Women In Critical Care, Choosing Wisely, Data Science, Geriatrics, and Coding and Billing. Other KEGs, such as Ethics and Palliative Care, are under development, and more groups are expected to enter the pipeline soon. Because KEGs are SCCM internal entities, all participants must be members. Furthermore, KEGs are required to align with one of SCCM’s recognized knowledge lines: Administration, Cardiovascular, Disaster, Endocrine, Epidemiology/Outcomes, Ethics/End of Life, GI/Nutrition, Hematology, Immunology, Infection, Integument (skin), Neurology, Obstetrics, Patient and Family Support, Pharmacology, Procedures, Professional Development, Pulmonary, Quality and Patient Safety, Renal, Resuscitation, Sepsis, Shock, and Trauma.

Each of the approved KEGs supports an important area of inquiry or education. The process for establishing a new KEG is straightforward. An application must be completed and should be supported by a needs assessment, as well as an initial grouping of 50 members in good standing, all of whom are interested in that specific knowledge area. The entire group must designate two initial cochairs, each of whom have earned a diamond or platinum SCCM engagement score.

What is an SCCM engagement score or engagement index? This is a numeric means of identifying all of an individual member’s Society-related activity. Activities can take various forms: Congress attendance and participation, committee membership or leadership, liaison service, course registration, fellowship in the American College of Critical Care Medicine, earned awards (such as the Presidential Citation), educational material purchases, and charitable contributions. Engagement scores are grouped into ranges and then tied to a unique identifier.

Tiers ascend in numeric ranges and identifiers: copper, bronze, silver, gold, diamond, and finally
platinum. (Sorry, no vibranium for Marvel® fans.) When logging into MySCCM.org, you can locate your membership type at the bottom left of the screen. Below that is your engagement score and the range within which it falls. Here is mine, by way of example. My membership started in 1997, and my engagement score reflects all of my SCCM activity to date.

Does KEG participation impact your engagement index? You may rest assured that it does!

Other members, as well as leadership, may access KEGs when a specific expertise is needed around a particular issue or activity. This is one reason why each KEG has two cochairs; they serve as access points for everyone. Additionally, each KEG engages members, at a minimum, through a yearly in-person meeting at Congress. The time and location of each KEG meeting is posted within the SCCM Congress App. Congress 2021 will be a celebration of SCCM’s 50th Anniversary, so tapping a KEG might provide a superb method for celebrating in more than one way!