For the past three years I was the Educational Chair for a trade organization. This was an assignment I never really wanted but felt obligated to take. Most of the board members were either my direct customers or were customers of my colleagues so as a result I was in a precarious position. Being a strong willed opinionated woman I had to often walk a tightrope between self-expression and political correctness because business was definitely intertwined with this quasi business endeavor.
Being the Educational Chair was a committee appointment and as the title suggests I was the chairperson of this committee. In reality, the Educational Chair did most of the heavy lifting from engaging the speakers, applying to the two credentialing organizations for the program’s continuing education credits, creating the agenda, corralling the speakers in order to get their presentations to the printer or downloaded on flash drives on time, and holding your breath until you saw the whites of the eyes of the last attendees. From November, when the board convened to discuss the upcoming seminar, to the first week in June, when the seminar occurred, it was a whirlwind of preparation, rework, preparation, rework, frustration, rework, more frustration, then heart pumping adrenaline, followed by elation, satisfaction and a job well done. Just when I was able to take a huge sigh of relief vowing never to do this again, the next year I was reappointed, because after all I did such a great job.
As year 2 rolled into year 3 my lament was the same. No more. Too much work, too little cooperation. I felt like Colombo, in my wrinkled trench coat tracking down perpetrators for their missing submissions. After all I had a stressful full time job in addition to being this volunteer Educational Chair. I was juggling so many balls in the air that on any given day I transformed into a master contortionist feverishly trying to stay grounded and sane.
As the 3rd year’s conference concluded, once again I basked in the glow of a job well done and felt utter relief that the conference was over. I could take a breath. The last day of the two day program, it was customary for the board to meet to review the attendees’ surveys, discuss old business, any new business and next steps. This board meeting was different.
Thirteen years ago, when the organization was born, its objective was to lobby the New York State Legislative branches for licensure/certification for their members and provide quality education for continuous educational credits. That year we accomplished that objective. Governor Cuomo signed our bill into law. As there were local chapters in the state of New York providing education to its members, the board voted unanimously to disband the NYS Chapter. At first, I was elated, after all my “job” as Educational Chair was now officially over and I didn’t even have to quit! As the reality of the chapter’s demise began to sink in, I was shocked by my mixed feelings of loss and sadness. In spite of the work involved in pulling off the annual conference, I had forged a wonderful working and personal relationship with the members of the board. With the dissolution of the organization those friendships and the comradery we shared would change as the board was scattered across New York State. The monthly conference calls dwindled down to nothing as the group’s mission had ended. As I resumed the normal chaotic rhythm of my life it was with wonder and awe that I reflected on the role and positive impact the now defunct organization made on healthcare in New York State. I couldn’t help but feel proud that I was part of an organization that successfully fought for this ground breaking patient safety law in New York State.