Meet Antonio Almeida, our February Volunteer of the Month
EHA is a Public Benefit Organization under Dutch law. This means that at least 90% of our efforts are focused on the general good, and profits generated from our activities are solely invested in projects and programs for the benefit of the hematology community. It also means that volunteers are driving our programs and do not receive any salary or financial compensation. These volunteers range from board members to committee members, case writers, external reviewers. Altogether they work for ‘the good cause’ by sharing their knowledge and experience in the broad range of projects and programs EHA is doing. All aimed at lifting hematology to the next level.
Antonio Almeida currently serves as Chair for the Curriculum Committee. This committee focuses on the development and implementation of the Curriculum, the European Hematology Exam and the EHA Master Class. Furthermore, he serves as a member in the Education and the Sponsor and Fundraising Committees.
EHA: Can you tell us what you do for EHA and when you started?
Antonio: I am deeply involved in many educational projects within EHA. Currently I serve as the Chairman of the Curriculum Committee and, inherent to this role, am a member of the Education Committee. I became a member of the Curriculum Committee in June 2012 and was invited to become Chair in 2016. As member of these committees I am privileged to participate in the strategy and development of EHA’s educational programs, such as the Outreach, CME (currently known as EBAH) and Scientific Working Group programs and the design and content of the new EHA Campus (the online learning platform), to which I have contributed material for courses.
The main task of the Curriculum Committee is to develop and update the European Hematology Curriculum, a unique tool, which outlines the topics hematologists should know, and recommends the minimum levels of knowledge which should be attained by the end of training. The European Hematology Curriculum serves as the anchoring framework for all educational projects within the EHA.
In addition to periodically reviewing the Curriculum, the Curriculum Committee is also responsible for the Master Class, a year-long online teaching program in which mentees work through clinical cases in groups. I have been a mentor and case reviewer in the Master Class since the pilot in 2011.
The other main project of the Curriculum Committee is the European Hematology Exam. I have been involved in designing the exam, writing questions, analyzing the results and making strategic decisions regarding future exams. The third exam will be held on the Friday (June 14, 2019) of the 24th EHA Congress in Amsterdam, and we are hoping to have satellite sites in several European countries.
As a consequence of my roles in Education, in 2018 I was invited to be a member of the Sponsor Committee. In this Committee I present EHA educational activities to sponsors, mainly pharmaceutical companies, trying to identify the best ways for EHA and their sponsors to collaborate.
Outside my roles in the EHA Committees, I also review abstracts submitted for presentation at the annual EHA congress and have been a member of the Congress Scientific Committee for the past 2 years. In consonance with my passion for education, I lectured and presented clinical cases at several EHA Tutorials and at the meetings organized by the Myeloproliferative Neoplasm and Hematology in the Elderly Scientific Working Groups, of which I am an active member.
EHA: How did you become a volunteer? Who helped you become one?
Antonio: My first activities with EHA were as a mentor for the first (pilot) Master Class in 2011. At the time the H-Net project was underway and the linker (educational representative of a national society) for Portugal, Antonio Parreira, put my name forward as a mentor. This opened the doorway into EHA educational activities. Over the years, many fellow hematologists, such as Eva Hellström-Lindberg, Cheng-Hock Toh and Irene Roberts, among many others, have inspired and supported me in my role as a volunteer.
EHA: What is your motivation on volunteering for EHA
Antonio: The EHA is a unique Association in the world of hematology. It has been able to congregate hematologists from very different countries and health systems and gradually establish high stands of quality for hematology training in Europe. My main motivation is the possibility to be a part of this unifying force, which is innovating and increasing the quality of hematology teaching in Europe and beyond.
Equally motivating are the people I have met at EHA. All hematologists, educationalists and office staff I have worked with have inspired me with their dedication, enthusiasm and open-mindedness.
EHA: Why you choose to serve EHA?
Antonio: There are two main reasons why I choose to serve EHA.
The first is the recognition of how useful the Association is for the whole hematology community in Europe. Its educational initiatives improve the quality of hematologists; its lobbying with the European Commission increases the profile of laboratory and clinical hematology; its associative organization favors collaboration beyond our borders; and its altruistic philosophy greatly benefits less fortunate areas in the world.
The second is the personal honor of being part of a modern, innovative Association to which I can give an active contribution and from which I have learnt so much.
EHA: What does volunteering for EHA give you/do to you?
Antonio: Working with EHA has contributed enormously to my personal growth not only as a hematologist but also as a professional, educator and a leader. The roles which I have been invited to play have all been challenging and fulfilling, including some projects which failed! I have learnt a great deal about team-work, listening and welcoming new ideas (even those I might have initially found uninteresting) and stepping beyond my comfort zone. The people and projects I have collaborated with in EHA have broadened my horizons in all senses and had a huge impact on my professional life.
EHA: What would you say to others who would like to volunteer for EHA as well?
Antonio: Running the risk of sounding like “Uncle Sam”, I would say: EHA needs you! Support EHA and allow yourself to be challenged by stimulating projects and inspiring people. Every small contribution is useful to help EHA to improve standards and profile of Hematology.