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Letters I Hate and Love to Sign!
by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
Every month, I have chosen to personally sign letters that go to members whose memberships have expired. The letter is polite and aimed at coaxing these members back into the fold. And fortunately, that often happens! The letter is a gentle reminder that I’ve noticed that their membership has lapsed. This hits home especially well when that member is a member of the Board of Directors, a student chapter President or faculty advisor, or a Past President of ICHP. In those cases, 999 times out of 1000, it is a case of a misplaced renewal notice or a forgotten trip to the ICHP webpage to renew. Hopefully it touches everyone with a little guilt or reconsideration.
I hate signing these letters because it is saying good-bye to many members that I’ve not yet gotten to know well, and that makes me sad. I love signing the letters when I get to add a little note at the bottom for folks I do know personally, hoping that they will renew to stay in the fold. The evil side of me knows that this little note will often generate a red face and a quick trip to the internet as mentioned earlier for those members I know really well! Shame on me!
And of the members I didn’t get to know, I see a broad diversity that makes me wish we could have engaged them in some of the activities of the Council, ensuring that their membership would mean more to them so that they stayed involved and knowing that their perspectives would make our output more diverse and far-reaching. I’m always curious as to which of these exiting members ICHP could have tapped for significant contributions and why we missed that opportunity during the past year? I also hope that someday, they will come back to ICHP and share those skills and abilities for the profession.
I know that the personal invitation is the most powerful way to get people involved in any organization or cause. I also know that all of ICHP’s leaders, whether they are Board Members, Past Presidents, or division or committee members, want to include more members in all of our activities. Sometimes we forget to ask and often we don’t have the time to reach out to everyone personally. But we do reach out! What that means is that we do have time to answer anyone and everyone when they ask us, “Is there anything I can do?”
I hate to sign these letters because the monthly pile of letters has grown over the past few years. It’s primarily a reflection of the number of students in Illinois and the number of those who join ICHP at some point in their education. While turnover is normally not a good thing, this tells me is that today’s pharmacy student is willing to explore all career options but also that he or she is very busy. In my conversations with students and recent graduates, I also know that there is an intimidating obstacle to renewing their membership after graduation called the “student loan balance”! And as for the more seasoned practitioners who have let their membership lapse, it seems to be the “What have you done for me lately?” response. Yes, $125 seems like a lot to both groups when you’re writing the check or completing the online renewal, but in the broader picture of being a pharmacy professional, your representation with State government and its agencies makes that $125 worth much more than merely skipping one trip to Starbucks every other week.
I love knowing that most members “get it”! That they faithfully renew, even though the local “Supper Club” CE programs of now 15 years ago have disappeared. They understand that ICHP is working hard to find ways to bring them useful and timely products, services and CPE programming that helps them in their practice settings. And I love that many of us have become great friends merely by attending the Spring and/or Annual Meetings with a willingness to meet and greet new faces and share new accomplishments at practice sites all over Illinois.
I hate that the piles of these letters grow, but I love that the number who don’t get these letters is growing, too! I invite each of you to stay a little longer, ask what you can do to help or say “Yes” when someone asks you to help, and see that ICHP has a place for you. Do what you can to keep me from sending you a letter that I hate and love to sign!
P.S. If you do receive one of these letters for whatever reason, please pardon my penmanship! The more time I spend on the computer, the worse my handwriting gets. But it is still cursive (for the most part)!