This week I ran into a colleague at the hospital while conducting my rounds. As I was sifting through the medical chart online and fielding pages from the nursing staff, I decided to casually ask him if he is a member of NAAMA. The answer was “yes” and “no”. Perplexed, I asked him to explain what he means, so he went on to give me a long winded summary of how he used to belong, but in recent years decided not to renew his dues because he didn’t feel there was a tangible benefit. I could not get him to stop complaining about all the things he didn’t like. As I sat there politely listening to him and looking at my watch and wondering if I am going to have time to pick up my latte from Starbucks prior to going to the office, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything I could say that would have him step back, pause, and reevaluate his opinion on the matter. I knew I had just a few minutes, and I had to say something that would make him at a minimum think about our conversation later on. I asked him if he belonged to any medical society or organization and he replied that he belongs to several. I asked if they have dues, and he answered off course. I proceeded with inquiring about all the tangible benefits that he has taken advantage off while being a member of those organizations, he was short on examples. He did however state that these organizations lobby on his behalf on a variety of issues. At this point, I had to make my case and head out. In the calmest of demeanors, as I slowly pushed my chair back and stood up, I said to him “My friend, I hope you reconsider visiting our website and seeing the tangible benefits available to you.” As I walked away reflecting on our conversation, I thought about the issues that plague most organizations, recruiting and retaining members. In today’s tough economic conditions, all organizations are struggling but the ones that are able to withstand this phase are usually the ones that capitalize on a sense of commitment from their members. As we reinvent NAAMA-MI, we are reaching out to our members and asking them to attend our meetings, email us with suggestions, and voice their concerns. We are teaming up with various industries to offer our membership discounted rates from legal fees to financial planning. We are conducting CME events, reaching out to the medical and dental schools in metro Detroit in hopes of fostering strong and fruitful relationships with our chapter. We are planning a humanitarian fundraiser for the thousands of displaced Syrian families enduring the harsh elements of winter. We are creating a scholarship fund to assist our future generation of medical professionals in hopes of lessening the crushing debt that has become the norm. We have introduced a basketball team for any member to join and reap the benefits of exercise all the while creating a cohesive social and professional network of Arab American health professionals for years to come. This is what I wanted to say to my friend, but in the interest of time I decided to relay it to him in this article, as I hope he reads it and not only joins again, but lifts his head up in pride when he says that he is a member of NAAMA.
Sam Fawaz, M.D.