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Lead a Professional Healthcare Association

Lead a Professional Healthcare Association

Jennifer LeClaire /

Do you have what it takes to help shape the future of healthcare? If you’re a problem solver with strong leadership skills who is bold enough to stand up for your beliefs, and if you’re willing to work hard and sacrifice your time, then you could be the next elected official of an influential healthcare organization.

A Different Breed

Most elected leaders will say that a feeling of professional responsibility led them to run for office. These are the association members who aren’t satisfied with paying dues and watching things happen. They are vocal about their strategies and aren’t afraid to try to fix what’s broken.

“I had a vision for social work and social workers who can make a difference in society,” says Terry Mizrahi, former president of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) and a professor at Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City. “Social workers are an integral part of healthcare, yet I didn’t think we were getting the recognition and powerful voice that other professionals have in our society.”

It takes more than definite views to be a successful leader, according to Dr. Bettye Davis-Lewis, immediate past president of the National Black Nurses Association (NBNA) and CEO of Diversified Healthcare Systems in Houston.

“You have to be politically savvy, educationally prepared and able to influence other people,” she says. “You have to know your elected officials and community leaders, have good people skills, honesty and integrity and know the issues that affect the profession. If you don’t know the issues, how can you help anyone?”

Overcoming Challenges

Just because you have what it takes doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges during your tenure. Heading up a professional association can be a major time commitment that involves paperwork, travel and cooperating with opinion-seeking journalists.

“The only major drawback is the time commitment,” says Linda A. Lewandowski, PhD, RN, past president of the Society of Pediatric Nurses (SPN) and professor of pediatric nursing at Wayne State University’s College of Nursing. “My frustration is wishing I could do more, but there are real-world work commitments, too.”

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