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President's Message: A Lifelong Journey

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Entry into healthcare launches one on a lifelong journey of professional—and personal—development. At times, the path one treads is deliberately selected, while at other times one’s course is much less clear. Navigating either route benefits from coach, guide, and mentor direction. Each role is slightly different in terms of focus, intent, goal, and duration. Uniquely, mentor relationships are bidirectional. Participating in the Society of Critical Care Medicine (SCCM) offers opportunities to engage in volunteer work and collaboration, as well as leadership. Each of these activities supports professional development and regularly places one in close proximity to guides, coaches, and individuals who may serve as mentors. Importantly, and reflecting SCCM’s multiprofessional membership, professional development is enhanced by diverse influences along one’s career path.
 
Professional development is more than acquiring a new title, additional responsibility—and of course—more meetings! Its foundation rests on understanding and facileness with information from a host of topics including nursing contact hours, pharmacy budget, operating room efficiency, access to care metrics, fellowship or residency directorship, committee participation or leadership, negotiations with other medical professional organizations, letter of recommendation authorship, scientific writing, public speaking, conflict management, and models of leadership. From reviewing this rather incomplete list it is quite apparent that succeeding in these domains requires engaging with individuals with both subject matter expertise and mastery. And one is un­likely to find a single person who possesses all of the desired skills and has the time to help you develop. Most of us need to find several people from whom to learn.
 
That perspective is truly important. The broader the base from which your education and skills flow, the more likely you are to de­velop successful approaches upon which you may rely. The ability to view problems from multiple vantage points hinges on familiarity with those perspectives in the first place. Those points of view—and how they guide the evalu­ation of clinical and nonclinical problems by those who hold them—force one to recognize that issues, consequences, and solutions are not unidimensional. Crowd-sourced wisdom reflects these very notions. Indeed, critical care spaces harbor crowds!
 
The SCCM Council—a quite diverse crowd of 23 Creative Community volunteers— is specifically crafted to provide diverse perspectives to support the organization and its members. If you were wondering just how diverse, take a look at the breadth of Council and the diversity of their specialties, practice settings, geographies, ethnicities, and genders.
 
Diversity Across All SCCM Activities
Every person who volunteers to join the Cre­ative Community is appointed to an SCCM committee. In concert with our recent state­ment, Message From the SCCM President on Diversity, we also strive to balance committee compo­sition to support professional diversity. This same approach is leveraged in appointing task forces, workgroups, and other ad hoc groups. Section- or group-driven studies or manuscripts are also directed to be diverse. The Congress Program Planning Committee shoulders a herculean task to incorporate diversity across the breadth of Congress pro­gramming. Meetings—whether remote or in person—bring diverse groups together for work as well as celebration. To establish diversity as well as we possibly can, SCCM needs your aid. We ask you to add your demographic in­formation to your profile at MySCCM.org. You need only share the information with which you are comfortable.
 
The president role lends itself to sharing a lot about one’s personal and professional paths. At the start of Congress, the presi­dent’s family is introduced to the member­ship. But we sometimes may not spend as much time on the professional path. I now have the opportunity to address that gap.
 
My professional development has been strongly influenced by physicians of many disciplines not my own, trainees of multi­ple disciplines, nurses, pharmacists, and advanced practice providers (APPs), finance experts, spiritual care practitioners, and administrators. It is relevant to note that, of all those influencers, APPs are the newest to the healthcare landscape, followed closely by pharmacists. These two groups are interwoven into the fabric of critical care from the bedside to the con­ference room. They are essential partners of the critical care team and bring their own residents and fellows to learn from the rest of the team—as do the physician specialties. But none of the above groups are the most powerful guides. That role flows from patients and families.
 
As a surgeon, I have been fortunate to practice in diverse settings including aca­demic quaternary care, community-based care, and federal facilities. My practice spans trauma, surgical critical care, emergency, and elective general surgery. Both setting and focus afforded me the privilege of touching the lives of people across the range of education, socioeconomic strata, family structure, language, circumstance, culture, religion, gender, and ethnicity. They each had lessons to teach me about specific aspects of care, relationships, and perspective. A number of those patients, their family members and I enjoy enduring relationships. Indeed, one of them was one of the first to receive the ICU Hero Award. The most important lesson that patients and families have collectively taught me is that life is precious no matter how if unfolds. It reinforces my need to continue developing professionally—and personally. It may do so for you as well. SCCM’s multiprofessional composition renders it a perfect organization to support your ongoing personal and professional development with a wealth of guides, coaches, and mentors, as well as patients and their families!