I am often overheard encouraging colleagues to become involved with CHEST. I am a strong believer that you get far more out of participation than you will ever put into it. I have now been fortunate to have many leadership roles within CHEST and currently serve on the Board of Regents and as Chair of the Council of NetWorks. I have been able to work with a growing number of people, including faculty and CHEST staff. The more invested I have become, the more CHEST truly feels like family.
I understand that while it may be easy for me to tell members to get involved, it often feels much more difficult to actually get appointed to a leadership position. Early in my career, I was given the advice, “When you are given a task, make sure you blow it out of the water. That will only open more doors for you.” Making the most of a position on a NetWork or committee can create future opportunities. We recently had self-nominations for leadership positions within the NetWork steering committees and committees at large. Some positions have one to two openings for 20 applications. It can be frustrating not to get a position the first time around. However, it is common for members to have to apply numerous times prior to being appointed. When applying to these positions, be sure to highlight any prior CHEST involvement, as this may weigh in on an appointment to specific positions. Some of the decisions to appoint a nominee are based on prior engagement with CHEST.
So how can one get involved without holding a leadership position? My first piece of advice is to ensure you are getting CHEST emails. Check them regularly to so that you do not miss any opportunities. Next, be a member of at least one NetWork that is of interest to you. The NetWorks provide a smaller community within CHEST for special interests within our field. You will get emailed updates throughout the year that include any projects in which input is needed. At the CHEST annual meeting, each NetWork holds an Open Forum that functions as their annual face-to-face business meeting. These meetings are open to everyone. This is an excellent way to meet the current steering committee members and become involved in plans for the upcoming year. This year, we have made the dates and times of the NetWork steering committee calls public on the CHEST website. Any NetWork member can join these calls, even if they are not officially on the steering committee. All ongoing projects are discussed on these calls, so participation on the call offers an excellent opportunity to volunteer. You can also get involved with the NetWorks on social media by using the appropriate NetWork hashtags, along with tagging @accpchest to communicate with your NetWork colleagues.
Finally, the easiest way to embrace CHEST, and possibly the most obvious, is to get involved with the CHEST annual meeting. The meeting is at its best when planned and orchestrated by a diverse group of people. Annual meeting planning usually starts in November or December of the prior year. Submitting a proposal for a session at the annual meeting is strongly encouraged. Tips for how to submit a strong, well-rounded session are offered on the submission website. Reviewing these tips first can help strengthen your proposal. An easy way to become involved, even as a student or as a trainee, is to submit an abstract to the annual meeting
Summing up, I would encourage everyone to simply be an active participant: raise your hand to ask questions, introduce yourself to those around you, and attend the social events at CHEST annual meeting. Before you know it, new friends will become old friends, and attending the CHEST annual meeting will start to feel like going to a family reunion.