As we celebrate National Volunteer Week this month (April 18 – 24), we asked the College’s executive medical director, Michael Blaiss, MD, FACAAI, to reflect on the importance of volunteerism at the College, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
What has impressed you the most about the College’s volunteers this past year?
It has been very gratifying this year to see such a large number of members gladly accept our requests to lend their time to help the College on a variety of projects. We rarely get a “no” even with the stress related to COVID-19. It speaks volumes on how great our membership wants to help our specialty excel.
Has anything changed about the way the College utilizes its volunteers amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
The pandemic has added increased burden on our volunteers as more and more projects related to COVID-19 have been needed on top of our regular activities. I personally want to single out the College’s Task Force on COVID-19 Vaccines, led by Niraj Patel, MD, FACAAI, for the amount of work they have done. Within a very short period of time, they have developed a wide range of resources related to COVID-19 vaccines, including guidance on allergic reactions, comparison charts for all the available vaccines, patient and provider FAQs, answers to questions on DocMatter and webinars for providers, including one in Spanish. These resources are available on the College’s COVID-19 Resource page and are regularly updated.
What do you see as the most vital opportunities for members to get more involved?
The College is always looking for projects and activities that can help the practicing allergist. Just last month, a member at an academic institution reached out to me about a project focused on children with peanut allergy. She developed a proposal, and the College is looking into getting support for it. Her project could help all allergy practices who have children with peanut allergy. If there is a project or activity that would help you, it probably would help your fellow allergist, too. You may reach out to your committee chair, any of the officers of the College, or email me to discuss your project ideas.