I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to my first ASSH Senior Member Breakfast! And this was despite the fact that the Senior Member Breakfast and Task Force had been created a few years earlier on my watch as ASSH President! But just like my first taste of eligibility for AARP, senior discounts at movies and Social Security, I wanted nothing to do with it. "Senior Member" did not suit my personal image.
The problem was that my good friend, Bob Wilson, MD, whom I had appointed as the first Task Force chairman, had invited me to the meeting and asked me to speak a little bit about the establishment and purpose of the group. After my brief presentation, I sat down to breakfast with some old (but still very young) friends and listened to some interesting and insightful narratives. At some point during that meeting, I became hooked.
Since then, the Task Force became a permanent standing committee and is now called the Senior Member Relations Committee. Its primary charges are to represent the interests of the senior/retired members of ASSH (individuals who are 65 or older and/or have completely retired from practice) and the interests of lifetime members (individuals who have been Active Members for 30 or more years). The committee also sponsors a breakfast at the Annual Meeting every September. The breakfast meetings have proved very popular, serving as a forum for discussion of issues important to senior members and as an opportunity to hear terrific presentations from other senior members on how to grow intellectually, socially and even monetarily during retirement.
Thanks to the committee's work, several ASSH activities have been discounted for senior/retired and lifetime members, and the content of several educational programs has been modified to provide greater appeal to senior hand surgeons.
Best of all have been the fascinating narratives by colleagues on various avocations, such as aviation (Jeff Justice, MD, and Jose Borrero, MD), clock repair (Errol Ger, MD), sculpture (Jules Shapiro, MD) and business and development (Bob Strauch, MD), just to name a few. In addition, many members who could not make it to the meetings have sent in emails to the group just to stay in touch.
So I'm glad I went to my first Senior Members' Meeting. Even though I'm not yet retired, I've learned from the committee that hand surgeons are a diverse and talented lot, and there's a lot more to our creative lives than what can be accomplished during our first 30 years of practice.