Incoming President’s Message – 2019
Time – it is the most important and elusive thing or commodity in our lives. Once you lose time, you have lost it forever. That one second it took for you to read these first few words can never be recouped. What we do with our time are the most important decisions we make on a daily basis. We spend our time on things that are meaningful to us, and on endeavors that resonate with how we live our lives. To many of us activities related to SLMANA is a time commitment that is an important facet of our lives. To that end, my goal as incoming president is to help our membership maximize the joy, that sense of accomplishment, that sense of altruism, or that sense of fellowship and make it worth your time.
SLMANA has four over-arching goals – fellowship, academics (professional collegiality of sharing medical knowledge), fund raising, and fund allocation.
Fellowship: Socializing with like minded people, with a similar background is a joyful and fulfilling aspect of our lives. SLMANA has done a nice job of this in the past with frequent meetings, charity ball, talent shows, and holiday parties. However, we must adapt to the needs of the younger generation of physicians without alienating the older guard. To do that we must remain relevant to both groups with exciting new social events which we will highlight over the next few months.
Academics: This newsletter has been an ideal way to highlight the important work done by our membership with regards to their contribution to the science of medicine. In addition, the CME sessions of the charity ball has been an important way to promote academic collegiality. Can we do more? Do our members want more? These are areas that we will be surveying and investigating further throughout the months ahead.
Fund raising: This fundamental aspect of SLMANA’s mission is likely to be the most time consuming. Each of us have many causes that we support. We cant possibly support all causes that seek funding. Whats amazing is that this very small group of members numbering approximately 25 has been able to raise nearly eighty thousand dollars every two years. Of that, about 40% were donations made by industry. I would like to challenge all members that we set a goal of 100% participation in fundraising no matter how small the amount donated maybe. With dwindling industry support from big pharma, its left to us to support the on-going charitable causes we support; so every little bit matters!
Fund allocation: identifying and funding worthy health related projects that benefits the greatest number of people or has the greatest impact is the goal of allocating funds. The fund allocation committee uses a standardized set of criteria that evaluates each project in a fair, objective manner free of biases. Their recommendations are presented to the executive committee for final voting. Thus far nearly all the projects have been located in Sri Lanka (I say nearly because there was some funding provided to hurricane Sandy relief efforts here in the USA). What about the communities that we live and work in? Haven’t we gained as much, if not more, from the USA as we have from Sri Lanka? The bylaws of SLMANA does not stipulate that funding be restricted to Sri Lanka only. Perhaps, funding a project in our local community maybe more meaningful and engaging to the younger members we hope to attract.
Speaking of younger members, they will be the lifeblood of this organization. Recruiting and retaining young physicians of Sri Lankan origin will be a top priority for the organization in the next few months. I urge all current members, past members, friends of SLMANA, and anyone else who is in someway affiliated with this organization, to look closely at your circle of friends and family – including your own children who maybe physicians or allied healthcare professionals, and encourage them join the organization. Those who were past members of SLMANA and have given up their membership for whatever reason, I encourage you to re-join our organization. I cannot change history where divisions may have been drawn along political, racial, and religious lines in the past. However, I can assure you that we will be a neutral organization free of bias that embraces all religions, races, and ways of life.
I hope your future engagement with SLMANA will be a fulfilling one, a productive one, a valuable one, and most importantly, one that is worth your time – for time is the most important and precious thing/commodity we have.
Wishing you all the very best
Aruna Milinda Seneviratne, MD