Viewpoints: House of Delegates from a First Time Attendee

By: Nadia A. Sundlass, MD

It was a beautiful fall day for the drive from Pittsburgh to Hershey for the first hybrid House of Delegates meeting since the beginning of the pandemic. The fall foliage was in peak colors as I drove through the countryside. I was hoping to get to Hershey in time for the CME leadership lecture before participating in several social events that would allow me to meet colleagues from Allegheny County as well as across the state. Tomorrow would be the meeting for the House of Delegates where I would be able to participate in the process that shapes the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s policies.

I arrived in Hershey right on time for the CME lecture about “Servant leadership and the expeditionary mindset” by Jeff Evans, an international mountain climbing guide and emergency medicine physician assistant. Jeff discussed his time guiding a visually impaired man on numerous adventures including rock climbing, cliff jumping, and scaling Mount Everest. It was an amazing talk about the strength of the human spirit and what can be accomplished through a mindset of humility and service. He skillfully created analogies between leading our medical offices and scaling Mount Everest, especially in post-pandemic life. Jeff compared leading his client to jump off a cliff with physicians leading their medical offices through crisis. This reminded me of both the beginning of the COVID pandemic and monkeypox epidemic. We are all jumping off a cliff, but as physicians, we have slightly more knowledge. Even though it’s scary for us, it’s even more frightening for those we are guiding off the cliff with us. I left the talk inspired to be a better version of myself who is committed to helping my team succeed.

Next, it was time for the Allegheny County Medical Society social at the Fire and Grain.

I was able to meet the other ACMS delegates as well as the amazing executive team who helped organize our delegation, Dottie Hostovich, Sara Hussey, and Nadine Popovich. It was a lot of fun meeting Dr. Rajiv Varma, Dr. Richard Hoffmeister and Dr. Amber Elway, among others and hearing about their experiences at previous house of delegates meetings. I also met some other first timers, including Dr. Michael Aziz, a delegate for the early career physician section. Being fairly new in practice, it was nice to connect with physicians in other specialties in Allegheny county and of all experience levels. This continued at the PAMED social where I had delicious Hershey’s Hot Cocoa and met more delegates from all stages of their medical career.

The next morning, we congregated to begin the House of Delegates. First we discussed the PAMED bylaws and hybrid format. The discussion involved ways to open up more positions in the PAMED leadership for newer and younger people. The House of Delegates uses parliamentary procedure to allow those interested to voice their opinions in a systematic and coordinated manner. Prior to the HOD, we had undergone training in parliamentary procedure, and it was great to see how it works in action. The Resolutions committee had previously made recommendations on which resolutions should be adopted, rejected, or studied further. After an early lunch, we started to discuss the resolutions which were extracted—those resolutions with which someone disagreed with the committee’s stance and wanted to have an open debate of their merits in the house. Resolutions covered a wide variety of topics relevant to practicing medicine in PA, from the positions of the PAMED on climate change, to protecting the sanctity of the physician/patient relationship, vaccinations, scope of practice, board certification, direct contracting entities, and much more.

The House of Delegates wrapped up early Saturday evening and I drove back to Pittsburgh. I thought about the wide variety of issues facing our patients and the practice of medicine in Pennsylvania and was appreciative of the organized process for physicians to provide input on their opinions of these issues. I am excited for next year and encourage others to get involved by providing oral and written testimony on the resolutions and becoming a delegate to the HOD.

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Medical Society House of Delegates please visit: