Experienced House of Delegates Chair Still Humbled at the Podium

December 18, 2018

Suzanne Gillespie, MD, RD, CMD, is in her third year as Society House of Delegates (HoD) chair, but she is still humbled when she stands at the podium and looks out at her family of peers. Then she takes a deep breath, relishes the excitement and energy of the meeting, and starts talking. It’s not too late to share this experience. You have until January 6 to submit a resolution or become a delegate for the 2019 meeting in Atlanta, GA.

“We’ve already received several resolutions, so we are off to an excellent start,” says Dr. Gillespie. “We’re looking forward to seeing more and to having both veteran and first-time delegates participating at the meeting.” With so much activity on the state, federal, and facility level regarding new payment models, quality improvement initiatives, and clinical and management trends such as the use of telemedicine, Dr. Gillespie says, “It will be a very busy and productive meeting.”

Discussions at the HoD meetings, Dr. Gillespie notes, “are only as active as the people putting forth ideas and providing insights and feedback.” However, she stresses that they are always lively and thought-provoking: “I remember at one meeting we were discussing a resolution that people were split 50-50 on. Two delegates got up to debate the issue, and they had a tremendously productive, mutually respectful discussion. It was clear that while their opinions differed, they shared a deep commitment to providing the best possible care for our patients.” Even when the dialogue is heated, she says, “Our members are really inspiring. At the end of the day, there is laughter and camaraderie. It really is a joy to experience.”

Whether you serve as a delegate or submit a resolution, you have an impact. “We have had so many resolutions and issues from the HoD that have become part of Society or even national policy, contributed to implementing changes in the system, and opened dialogue with other professional organizations,” Dr. Gillespie says. “It is exciting to be part of this.”

In many ways, says Dr. Gillespie, the HoD is a grassroots effort in which members get to have a dialogue and share thoughts and experiences regarding the issues that are important to them and their patients. “The HoD is comprised of a diverse group of people, and diversity is how we advance the practice of post-acute and long-term care medicine,” she observes. “The HoD offers everyone a place at the table. Everyone has a voice.”

While serving as a delegate requires some commitment of time and energy, the experience gives back ten-fold, Dr. Gillespie says. Delegates see how the Society operates and gain a variety of insights into the issues confronting our profession. “You also learn about policy development and consensus building,” Dr. Gillespie notes.

“If there is an issue that you feel strongly about, others are likely to share your interest,” Dr. Gillespie says, adding that there are many people—from state chapter leaders to Society staff—who will be more than happy to help you craft your resolution if you have questions or want guidance. In the meantime, you can view resolutions that have been successful over the years here.

In addition to preparing for the HoD meeting, working, and teaching, you will find Dr. Gillespie spending time with her family and baking cookies this holiday season. “I’m an avid baker. I took a French cooking master class to perfect my macaroon, but I can bake just about any cookie you can imagine. It’s one of my favorite things to do,” she says.

Click here for more information on submitting a resolution or registering as a delegate.