Donna S. Heidel, MS, CIH, FAIHA Industrial Hygiene Practice Leader Bureau Veritas North America, Inc. Health, Safety, and Environmental Division Research Triangle, N.C.
AIHA professionals must continue to engage students not only to discuss our profession’s focus on protecting human health but also to share specific examples of the impact each of us has had on preventing adverse health effects. As a profession, we are modest when discussing our impact in preventing occupational disease. It is time to embrace our contributions and talk with our next generation of IHs about how we advance worker health and the hard work ahead to reach our goal to eliminate occupational disease. Our youth are committed to careers that have a positive social impact on their communities, as well as on society as a whole. Our profession can fulfill their career aspirations.
Next, we need to showcase the contributions of our students and early career professionals at AIHce, Fall Conference, and local section meetings and conferences by inviting them to the podium with us to present their unique perspectives on current IH topics.
Finally, each of us needs to reach beyond our comfort zone of speaking only to each other. Discussing our role in safely launching new products and commissioning new processes with scientists, engineers, and managers will engage a whole new group of students and early career professionals in the value of our profession.
Alan Leibowitz, CIH, CSP President EHS Systems Solutions Alexandria, Va.
​We can do more to generate enthusiasm for the profession among science-minded individuals throughout their education and career paths. We have already taken some strong steps in that direction with a variety of activities including the well-respected Future Leaders Institute and our work on the Safety Matters program, but we can do more.
First, we ask our future leaders to provide guidance on how to best appeal to their generation. Then we engage outside thought leaders to assist with targeted messaging.
Second, we go where potential young members are. Whether on social media and other interactive platforms or in schools and community events, the more we spread the word about IH the better. Venue and content are important no matter what age group we are working to connect with, and no one solution will fit every need.
Finally, we must keep new members engaged once they touch our programs. Our mentorship initiatives are a good start, but even more direct contact and making useful material available at low or no cost can help make AIHA their association of choice. Better managing volunteer engagement to provide interesting projects and social opportunities will make us the place where individuals choose to spend their limited volunteer time. We will offer a vibrant creative space that is attractive to our next generation.