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Joining IDSA’s Board of Directors: A Clinician’s Perspective

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Steven Schmitt: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Let's Talk ID podcast, where it's all ID, all the time. I'm Dr. Steve Schmitt from Cleveland Clinic, President-elect of IDSA. And it's my great honor today to welcome back to the pod Dr. Dan McQuillen from Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, who is Past President of the Society. Welcome, Dan.

Daniel McQuillen: [00:00:21] Thanks, Steve. It's good to be back. Having gone through quite a few of these last year, it was quite a bit of fun and I think today will be pretty fun as well.

Steven Schmitt: [00:00:31] Indeed it will. It's great to have you. So let's get right to it. On the last installment of Let's Talk ID, Drs. Del Rio, Armstrong and Bonura talked about the MATCH results and recruitment to the specialty. So the future of the specialty is always something that IDSA leadership prioritizes. And lately it's been even more top of mind given the MATCH results. And it's important that as we discuss this, I think that IDSA have voices from across the spectrum of ID in its leadership and part of the conversation. But Dan, you and I both here, I think sometimes that folks are reticent to get involved with IDSA for a variety of reasons. They don't know how to volunteer, don't have time to volunteer, don't see the value equation for volunteering, etc. You know, I looked it up. You and I have known each other now for about 15 years, and we both probably both been working, doing volunteering with IDSA for about 20 or more. And so that kind of makes us experts on volunteering at IDSA. I was thinking, I've never heard your IDSA origin story, so I'll ask how and why did you get involved in the first place?

Daniel McQuillen: [00:01:57] It's a good question, I think, and it has some inner digitations with how you got involved as well. A lot like choosing this specialty. It wasn't something I set out to do primarily, but I got attracted into it. Then I found out that there was a society you could be in, and at the time I joined, we would have these annual meetings that were tagged on to the end of the ICAAC meeting, either before or after, and it seemed more like a couple of days meeting. And then a society which really didn't do much in terms of interacting with me. But as I got a little bit more into it, I started to get the call for volunteers and volunteer for things but not get asked. What ended up happening was a person you and I both know named Larry Martinelli, who had gotten involved before I had. And I think the way Larry got involved was as part of the group that was trying to make a pathway for infectious disease doctors to do OPAT and part of a group for that. I ran into him at one of the ID meetings and he said, you should really apply to to be on the clinical affairs committee that I'm on because it's really a lot of fun and we do some really important things. Why haven't you applied? And I said, well, I've applied for three years in a row and no one said anything. And so that led to me eventually getting placed on the committee. And I did find out that he was correct. We did a lot of fun things and a lot of things that had quite a bit of value to everybody in our field, particularly those in clinical practice, as opposed to being in an academic setting, which I think at that time was still being established as a way to do ID practice in the United States. And it's kind of snowballed from there and has been probably the most satisfying thing I've done in my medical career so far.

Steven Schmitt: [00:03:49] Yeah, you know, you're right. Those do interdigitate quite a bit. I actually kind of became aware of IDSA before I even went to medical school. I had landed in Ward Bullock's lab in Cincinnati. Did you know Ward?

Daniel McQuillen: [00:04:04] I knew of him, but I never actually met him.

Steven Schmitt: [00:04:08] So Ward was the chair of ID at Cincinnati when I was there. And so I was working in his lab, coming out of college for a couple of years, and Ward was on IDSA Council, which was the forerunner of the board of directors, and I could see that it was something very important to him. He talked about it. And so, you know, later when I came into ID, I initially got involved with our state society in Ohio, and then with Tom File's help, got involved in the state and regionals, assembly and board. And, you know, there was this guy who kept coming to the clinical affairs with the Clinical Affairs Committee information and report to the state and Regional Assembly named Larry Martinelli. And it was pretty clear that that group had a lot going on for clinicians. And so I got interested, talked to Larry and a similar thing. And and so over the years have served on a number of committees and eventually on board and now in the executive functions. And so I really saw that as an opportunity to meet new folks, bring back new ideas to the group, help build reputation for the group, but most importantly, to give back to ID and make a difference that way. You know, circling back then with this common history, we've both chaired committees. We've both served on the board of directors, we've both been officers. And it's been a long time, as I mentioned. And we both could have cut out at a lot of different points. And I know why I keep coming back, but I'll take the interviewer's prerogative again to let you speak first. Why do you keep coming back 20 years later? What's been your value equation?

Daniel McQuillen: [00:06:02] Yeah, I think it's a lot of different things. I remember talking to fellows at the clinical fellows meeting that the clinical affairs committee sponsored for a number of years about why they were interested and why I was interested, and also how people in infectious diseases often take very windy career paths, even if you just stay in academics and do research. I started out doing that. I ended up in clinical practice. But in IDSA with you and others, I've actually done more successful publishing of research since I've been involved in IDSA than I ever did when I was in a research bench lab. The work that we've been able to do, at least me personally, through all these different committees, running IDweek, running the clinical affairs committee, has allowed me to interact with people that I would never have met before who are devoted to the same sort of career ideal that I am and see where the problems are with us as a specialty going forward and being able to make an impact on that. I think over the last several years we've really seen where we're the work that that you and I and others have done for a couple of decades is starting to bear fruit in terms of recognition nationally and not completely raising compensation to where it should be now.

Daniel McQuillen: [00:07:27] But people are paying attention now where they never did before. So yeah, it's extra work. It's never been overwhelming. It's never caused the group I work with to call me in and have a talk with me about not producing. I think when you can be involved in efforts and with people that you care about, it's worthwhile and it kind of drives itself in some ways. Getting into being active with the society is incredibly easier than it used to be. The access points for that are much better, and it's not as dependent on running into someone that has access and can kind of guide you in. I know the society is much more intentional in trying to get anyone that's interested some sort of thing that they can do that may build into something else and not turn people away if we can do it.

Steven Schmitt: [00:08:22] Yeah, that's a very similar emotion as well for me. I mean, I think this far along the work has really addicted me to being part of the solution for ID. I mean, ID has given me a lot and so I now really have a sense of ownership, you know, and stewardship of ID and IDSA to the point where it's gotten to be more and more important as I've moved along and started to consider the legacy piece, you know, as we get above 60. And so it's a part of my personal and professional identity now, I'd say. And when I say personal also, I mean, I really have met a tremendous number of amazing folks like you, like yourself, who are my heroes and my close friends. And I've met the very dedicated folks of the IDSA staff, who are also my heroes and friends. When I started talking about the work, you talked about some of the effects on your colleagues here. You know, and in fact, I had this conversation just the other day with a younger colleague in the break room. She said, boy, that sounds like a lot of time and you have a lot of other responsibilities here.

Steven Schmitt: [00:09:40] You're a busy clinical practice...local administration do you find the time for that? And I always tell them it's partly the joy I get that drives the, you know, provides the energy and drives me. And there's a certain amount of organization that you have to bring to it. And then then you really need the support of the group. You have to have some buy in. And I've always been able to to find that by keeping folks updated on what we're doing to the point that, you know, it's not confidential stuff, but what we are up to and let them in on the value that I think it brings to the group. And also I've encouraged people in the group to volunteer and to help build their own careers in that way. And then lastly, you know, I always had to make the case to the the wife and family as well. Did you have anything that you did to sort of sell it to your work and your family?

Daniel McQuillen: [00:10:44] It's interesting. We're in both in similar situations. We're in large, multi-specialty group practices. And our ID group here is a little bit smaller than yours. It was pretty easy sell to all of them because some of them are involved in IDSA and to some extent they realize that from some of the things that we've accomplished along the way that it's quite valuable. And then the leadership at our place pays attention to you being involved in national committees at whatever level it is. Obviously, if you get to the level of leadership in the executive committee, that's something different. So they're willing to allow the slack to be able to do that in terms of work. So it's never really been a problem for that. It's not like I don't take either of those work pieces home at times. I think my wife and family, they can see how much it means to me. Like anything else, you have to make commitment to kind of devote as much as you can to either. And so that that hasn't really been a problem either. Yes, it takes some work and obviously everybody's personal practice situation, be it in academics or be it in a big group practice, or a 1 or 2 person practice, the calculus is going to be a little bit different. One of the things you mentioned before is for the entire time I've been involved in any kind of committee work or more at IDSA, the expertise and devotion to the mission of the staff at IDSA has just been astounding. We wouldn't get near the work we got done without their expertise and support, which is kind of one of the things that makes it a little bit easier to do something that might on its own be tons and tons of work that would overwhelm your ability to do it. So I can't say enough about about them.

Steven Schmitt: [00:12:37] That's really dead on, isn't it? It's important to note that, you know, you don't do these things in a vacuum. You're not creating all of it from the ground up. You have a tremendous amount of help from the IDSA staff. And I think that's something to really take note of when you're thinking about getting involved. But, you know, you're aware of this. I mean, we're really focused on diversity and equity and inclusion at IDSA. And we've got a lot of really important things that we address from the future of the society to what's been going on with the pandemic and other emerging infections, etc. So we really value having a broad spectrum of voices on the board when we're talking about these things and making decisions about these things. And that really does also include diversity of practice. And you and I are both well more than half time clinicians. And so I wonder if you could comment on why it's so important for IDSA to have the involvement of clinicians on committees and at the board level.

Daniel McQuillen: [00:13:52] You just have to look at the membership to realize that people that do primarily clinical practice make up at least half of the membership. And if you're thinking about an organization of any kind, you want people that lead your organization to reflect those in the membership. And that's on all diversity metrics. It's not one or the other. As our board has gotten more diverse, discussions we have are more diverse. One of the things I like the most about leading the board last year was we had 1 or 2 people, and they weren't the same, who would have a diametrically opposed opinion about what we should be doing on whatever subject it was we were talking about. Sometimes that changed what we would end up deciding, but a lot of times it didn't fully change things, but it informed the discussion so that we were making the best decision we could make. The more diverse you are, the better you reflect both the people that are the members of the society, but also the people that we take care of. And I think that's vitally important to getting an organization that achieves better results over the long term. I have three daughters and so I'm keenly aware of what they have to go up against in their careers, none of which are in medicine, and it's not that much different. And to the extent that we as a board can elevate those groups intentionally, I think that helps. Anything we can do along those lines helps raise kind of the floor for everyone else.

Steven Schmitt: [00:15:23] Yeah, spot on. Having those different voices really strengthens the conversation, doesn't it? It makes those decisions that much stronger. That's one of the reasons that it's really important for us to have folks of all different sorts on the board. And, you know, we were talking a lot about leadership. One of the ways that people get involved in leadership now at IDSA is earlier on in their careers through the Leadership Institute, which is a great way to do leadership skill building. I would advise folks to take a look at that on the IDSA website as an opportunity to dip your toe in the IDSA leadership waters. For people who are also just thinking about other ways to get involved in IDSA and sort of taste it, I've advised some folks to get involved in abstract review and the program work for IDWeek. We definitely need clinicians to help shape the meeting. And then advocacy work. You know, politicians really want to hear from constituent clinicians and the local data and data tells, but stories sell. So those patient stories coming in from constituents, those really always help us with our advocacy efforts as we've made the case for better recognition for ID. Last question to you then, what other thoughts do you have? What's the best way for people to get involved and to volunteer?

Daniel McQuillen: [00:16:52] As as always, we have a call for volunteers for things at a particular time of the year. So responding to that and looking at the different options, picking things, 1 or 2 things, that you're interested in and would be willing to work on or have expertise in is a good way to get started. If you know anybody that is on a committee or whatever else, you can always talk with them about opportunities. As I mentioned before, we're trying to not have people apply and hear nothing back because that just doesn't help at all. There may not be spots open on a particular committee that you might be interested in, but we've been developing things like advisory groups that are able to be there to be tapped for particular issues and help out. And that's a good way to kind of get your foot in the door from those sorts of things. The goal is to not turn anyone away completely if they're interested. So I think the channels are a lot more open than they were when you and I were starting out doing this, which is a great thing, actually.

Steven Schmitt: [00:17:55] The message is, at least from my point of view, is that it's a lot of work, but it's labor of love. It's doable in the context of a busy career. And so we are encouraging folks to consider being part of your professional home at IDSA. Dan, it's always a pleasure. Thanks for coming on the podcast and giving us all that important perspective. And to our listeners, thanks for spending some time with us today and please do not hesitate to reach out to us via email or through MyIDSA if we can provide additional information. Thank you for being IDSA members and for all that you do for your patients and for the public. And we'll see you again on Let's Talk ID.

IDSA President-Elect Steven K. Schmitt, MD, FIDSA and IDSA Immediate Past President Daniel P. McQuillen, MD, FIDSA discuss their experience as clinicians serving on the IDSA Board of Directors.

Learn more about positions available on the Board of Directors.




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