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Many articles describe how taking on a leadership role in professional organizations makes you a better communicator and more effective provider. This is not one of those. I'd like to discuss a different perspective: Being a leader makes our profession itself better.

When you step into a leadership role, you gain a different perspective. A broader, more strategic view becomes apparent, and from this perspective we can envision a broad range of options, challenges, and actions. When you are more aware of what's going on in dermatology, and why, you are better able to assist and mobilize others when issues arise, like proposed unfavorable legislation or changes to reimbursement policies. Your awareness to the issues or potential issues serves as a radar to allow you to make others cognizant and take action before new actions affect our practice. Also, by taking a leadership role, you are demonstrating to those around you that this is something worthy of your time and subtly encouraging them by example to do the same.

True, many of the issues we encounter will affect us directly as individual providers, but perhaps more importantly, it has an impact on how all PAs practice. If you've ever seen or read about a decision that you didn't agree with or had one of these decisions directly impact you, you realize that you're not alone. Bring your motivation to make changes and use that desire to shape the profession. Desire to make change is one of the biggest motivators in entering a leadership role. Of note, most people who enter the role within their organization do not see themselves as leaders, simply as someone who wants to produce beneficial changes. Eventually, networking and communicating with others who've been in those roles will help you feel more comfortable with that title and maybe encourage you to take more risk and greater responsibilities.

Another way being involved in leadership aids our profession is by bringing a new perspective and differing ideas to the discussion. Diversity of opinion is critical to making sound decisions. With variety of input, organizations and individuals in leadership roles are more likely to look beyond the “that's how we've always done it” mentality. When your voice is heard by other leaders, it prompts discussion and a better process but also makes us feel valued as individuals to know we are having a say in making a difference. This, in turn, makes us stronger, more confident individuals that can then become more effective leaders. As we become better leaders personally, we recognize that dissent is often a catalyst to greater change and will ensure that all voices in the room are heard and considered.

Best of all, when your professional organization succeeds, your profession grows stronger. As a leader, you can take pride in the knowledge that you played a part in making things better for everyone.

John Notabartolo graduated from the Interservice PA Program through University of Nebraska Medical Center in 1998. He served 21 years active duty in the US Air Force and has been actively participating in nonprofit leadership for the past 20 years. John has been President of the Society of Air Force PAs and the Society of Dermatology PAs. He has also held numerous volunteer and elected positions within those organizations as well as within the AAPA. In addition to his role as the Legislative Affairs Committee Chair in the SDPA, John currently serves as Chair of the Dermatology PA Foundation (DPAF).

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