November 8, 2023

President’s Letter from Bill Steinbach – Society Priorities in the New Era

Dr. Bill Steinbach
Dr. Bill Steinbach

It is an exciting time to be part of PIDS. Fantastic leadership over the last many years has led us to a Society with over 2,000 members, strong financial position, robust mission-driven initiatives, and the largest staff (n=5) that we have ever had in our history. These advances also offer the opportunity of an inflection point in terms of how we pursue our collective vision.

In this new era, we will focus on three larger Society-wide priorities that affect us all: compensation, workforce, and committee efficiency. We will continue to advance the numerous important projects and outreach efforts inside the Society and do so in the most proficient manner, but will now endeavor to use the construct of how we accomplish those goals with the lens of also benefitting the two umbrella priorities of compensation and workforce.   

Putting compensation in more specific terms, this is salary for our providers (especially those starting in the field) that appropriately reimburses us for appropriate work. The critical words here are “appropriate”. Basing a cause on “we want to be paid more” is a failed effort, as that will fall flat with departmental and hospital leadership. Leveraging a movement on the concept of we want to be paid appropriately and fairly based on what we do for the institution, and define the appropriate FTE for that work, is a much more effective rallying cry. 

We have all seen that IDSA recently completed a compensation playbook, and we are now utilizing their consultants to develop one specifically for peds ID. While the adult version was generally helpful, it fell short on numerous specific issues inherent to our field. We will now develop our own financial advocacy tool that actively addresses our needs.     

Workforce, specifically fellowship entry, has long been on our radar and despite multiple valiant efforts the needle has not been budged. This deserves enhanced focus from all of us and is of course likely intersected with the compensation component.

On a practical note, we are working to restructure our committees for optimal effectiveness. We currently have close to 30 separate committees. Some of this was historical and some was like adding on to a home in piecemeal fashion and it is time for a refresh in organizational structure. Operationally, even with 5 staff, a total of 30 committees is untenable. You have likely noticed that IDSA also undertook a significant reformulation for more efficient structure. Our goal is to refine to approximately 12 committees with attached subcommittees when appropriate. Inherent in this smaller number is the ability to incorporate a dyad leadership structure where a specific Board of Directors member is also directly connected to that committee for improved reporting. A specific staff member will also be assigned to that committee for consistent communication, planning and execution.

Our adage of if you want to participate then we will find a committee for you still rings true. Functionally speaking, however, that creates a nightmare scenario for scheduling. The current method has become too glacial and complicated, so we are pivoting to a more facile structure. We are entertaining the idea of smaller and more nimble committees of true voting members to improve logistics of meeting and decision-making, but then a larger “community” of interested parties in that domain that can always attend committee meetings and offer opinions. 

All this to say that our growth and sound leadership in the past has led us to this moment where we can ponder our best approaches and really and truly change the field for our members. Put your seatbelt on and keep your hands inside the ride.  It is an exciting time to be part of PIDS.

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