Governance and the CV Team
The ACC is a vibrant, forward-thinking professional society focused in the area of cardiovascular medicine. The College’s continuous efforts to scan the health care environment and update and change priorities in order to make sure it remains relevant for its members and its mission is one of its greatest strengths – and one of the reasons it is recognized as a leader in the health care community and why more than 52,000 cardiovascular care providers make the ACC their professional home.
A great example of the College’s forward-thinking nature was its 2003 decision to welcome non-physician cardiovascular team professionals as ACC members. This was both a means of addressing the looming workforce shortage, as well as acknowledgement of the ever-increasing importance of team-based care in cardiology. This decision has made the ACC the true house of cardiovascular care it is today. More recently, the College’s updated Strategic Plan, which is focused on the four strategic themes of population health, member value and engagement, purposeful education, and transformation of care, ensures we are on track to meet the needs of cardiovascular professionals around the world during a time of great change in the health care environment.
Given the impact of these changes and the need to remain strategically focused, relevant and nimble, the ACC spent the last two years examining its governance structure and processes – bringing in a national expert and convening a Governance Task Force. In December 2015, the Board of Trustees (BOT) approved transformational changes to the governance process that were based on optimal governance principles and center on the concepts of centralized authority and decentralized decision-making.
The changes will be phased in between now and 2018, with the first steps of this process currently being rolled out. Key features of the new changes include a significant reduction in Board size between now and 2018, as well as the establishment of standing Board committees that will allow the smaller board to focus on the strategic direction of the College vs. tactical operations. In practice, this will push programmatic strategy down to the committee level providing greater leadership opportunities for member volunteers.
So what does this mean for Cardiovascular (CV) Team Members?
First of all, it provides us an opportunity to have a bigger voice. While there may be less opportunity for any individual ACC member to become a Trustee, the creation of a new standing Membership Committee made up of representatives from the College’s Board of Governors, Section Councils, Assembly of International Governors, and Fellows in Training, CV Team and Early Career member groups means we have a greater opportunity for our collective voices to help guide the College forward. Additionally, the change in governance structure opens up more than 200+ committee positions providing many more opportunities for interested CV Team members and others to participate in important ACC activities. Volunteering for positions is the first crucial step. Committee openings are posted every August and self-nominations are accepted. Find your area of interest, your passion, and volunteer.
Secondly, the changes allow us to put the concept of “Teamship” into action. Many members of the College participate on committees, sections and/or councils of personal and professional interest with the hope of making an impact in a particular area (e.g., intervention, prevention, guideline development, CV Team Section, etc.) The shift to decentralized decision-making will allow these committees, sections and/or councils to conceptualize strategically-relevant projects and activities and make them happen. This is where “Teamship” comes into play – a concept CV Team members understand well given the increasing importance of team-based care in our daily professional lives. In this new governance structure, “Teamship” will need to take place across all levels of governance so that activities that cross areas of interest (e.g., population health and prevention) are reflective of the needs of all parties involved and are in line with the strategic goals of the College. If we do this right, we will have a much stronger, more focused ACC.
How do CV Team members get involved?
Just being on a committee is not enough. The CV Team Section is unique in that it represents several disciplines, including nursing, physician assistants and pharmacists to name a few. Volunteers need to be able to represent these many disciplines and serve as a strong “voice” for the entire cardiovascular team. In order to help with this, the CV Team Section is implementing a new communication strategy to improve the interactions between the Section and CV Team members who hold committee positions. This communication strategy is designed to insure that CV Team members have the pertinent data and resources they need to best inform the committees on which they serve about the issues and concerns specific to all aspects of the CV Team.
How do you get started?
The key to participation success within the ACC is making sure that you let other ACC members know what your skill sets are and what your professional aspirations are within the College. Building relationships with Section leadership, state liaisons and governors can help ensure you are considered for opportunities as they arise across the College. The new governance changes offer greater opportunities for the CV Team to play a greater role in helping the College achieve its strategic priorities and move the mission to transform cardiovascular care and improve heart health forward. The strength of the ACC lies with its members – working together we can make a real difference for the patients we serve.
Eileen M. Handberg, PhD, ARNP, FACC, is chair-elect of the Cardiovascular Team Section.
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