Mary Logan: Civility Matters

Civility has been a recurring topic of conversation in our household recently. The discussions are sparked primarily by harsh political rhetoric among grown men who evidently didn’t learn much in kindergarten. It is deeply troubling to see courtesy toward one another and respect for humankind so readily abandoned in favor of violent speech and action in our own country and around the world.

What is happening to civility? I am longing for a few—OK, I would settle for just one—new national leaders to lead us back to civility and serve as role models for how we should behave toward one another. We are all ambassadors in the world and urgently need to be reminded that civility still does matter. In another realm, Pope Francis has been a remarkable ambassador for the Catholic Church, elevating its stature simply by his humble and gracious presence and welcoming manner wherever he goes.

In case you are wondering why I would write about civility in a message about healthcare technology and AAMI, there is definitely a connection.

One of the hallmarks of successful standards development and the work of other committees and task forces in the healthcare technology community is the civility that we each bring into the room when we work together. It inspires me every time I listen to the discussions of people who park their egos and organizational agendas at the door in order to do their best work to support better patient outcomes through strong standards, technical documents, test methods, training, and toolkits.

It is one of the highest forms of civility to honor diversity of opinion, and AAMI volunteers foster that atmosphere in everything they do together. It may slow things down to consider every perspective on the front end of work, but in the end it’s rare for anyone to feel unheard or devalued. Ensuring a multidisciplinary perspective with every program and activity is one of AAMI’s core strengths.

Mentoring and supporting the next generation of healthcare technology professionals to value the collaborative spirit—civility—is key to the future of global standards. Standards development will change, but its foundation of civility will be needed no matter how the process itself evolves. We have all grown professionally through our involvement in the work of AAMI, and that growth has made us better employees, contributors to our own organizations, and global citizens. We all need to help instill civility as an essential principle for the collaborative work of improving patient outcomes through the development of standards and other technical documents.

It’s not only the work of standards development where civility matters. One of the AAMI Board’s charges to me when I became AAMI’s president and CEO in 2009 was to be an ambassador for AAMI. That charge has been front and center every day I have served as your executive leader. My wish in this last year before my retirement is for every member of the AAMI community to feel deputized, empowered, and honored to serve as an ambassador for AAMI’s mission: the development, management, and use of safe and effective healthcare technology. Every single one of us has a calling to support the healthcare community in that worthy goal—and to do so with an accent on understanding and civility.

Mary Logan, JD, CAE, is president and CEO of AAMI.

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