Anatomy Now

July 2019

The Five Ws & H of Volunteering

Have you or should you consider volunteering within the AAA? Volunteer comes from the Latin, voluntarius, of one’s free will, so this is your choice and commitment to make. The annual Call for Volunteers will arrive in your email box soon, so join me in considering a response!


Members comprise the organization, and all members are welcome to serve in volunteer roles. The association benefits from the ideas and and efforts of members from diverse backgrounds and geographic locations, who have differing expertise, experience, and views. Even if you are new in your position, if you are passionate about the AAA and its growth and have a desire to give back to the organization, you are welcome to volunteer!


There are several committees to consider, and the website describes their relationship to the Board of Directors, as well as each committee’s responsibilities, time commitment, member qualifications, and current members. Spend time reviewing the volunteer resources page and determine which committee is right for you. What would you like the AAA to accomplish and how can you best assist? Throughout the year, there are also opportunities for microvolunteering, so if you don’t have the time or inclination to commit to year-round committee work, consider this option. When the Call for Volunteers is circulated, just add your name and expertise for time-delimited micro-volunteering.


You will see the Call for Volunteers in your email and on the Anatomy Connected open forum in August. When you complete the online form, your self-reported information will be distributed to the committee chair(s) to match the needs of their committee. Now is the time, before the Call, to consider where you are in your career and what commitment you can make for national committee work. Consider what you wish to accomplish and go for it!


Most committees meet by conference call or video chat, and work between meetings is completed via email and online forum discussions. Interim work is completed at home, and most committees have at least one face-to-face meeting per year at the AAA Annual Meeting.


There are many reasons and rewards for volunteering with the AAA, the least of which is adding a line to your CV. Volunteer work is an ideal way to learn or practice new skills, such as negotiation, project management, communication and advocacy, and networking. It can open up paths to scientific collaborations, mentoring, authorship, and leadership. And it is a way to advocate for and implement your fresh ideas to advance the association for current and future members.


Think about the Call for Volunteers as you would for a promotion packet. Put forward a statement that best describes your expertise and what experience, views, and work ethic you bring to the committee. Since you will have done your homework and reviewed the AAA Strategic Plan, the scope of your selected committee, and the Diversity and Inclusion Statement, your statement will highlight what you uniquely bring to the committee or task force. Once you’ve been selected for the committee, be an active participant. This is your chance to shine! Make time for the committee or task force, not only for monthly conference calls, but also for the between-meeting work. Assist the chair and your fellow members by respectfully contributing your ideas and taking on and completing assigned tasks.

What do you want to accomplish in your career, and in the AAA? What are you passionate about? With great ideas and active participation, you will be called upon for more and more engagement! I have served on the Membership, Early-Career Anatomists, Nominating, and Publications Committees, and was selected as the inaugural chair of the Professional Development Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. I can tell you first-hand that committees and task forces are the progressive forces and the life-blood of the association. I have grown professionally through my work with the AAA, and my volunteer experiences have given me life-long career colleagues, wise mentors, and cherished friends. I hope you’ll consider joining the volunteer team that is the AAA!


Kimberly Topp, PT, PhD, FAAA, Professor and Chair Emeritus, University of California, San Francisco, and AAA Past President