Passing the Torch

Published in the June 2024 issue of the ISHA Voice.

By Michelle Zemsky Dineen, past chair of the Ethics Education Committee

More than a few years ago I wandered into an Ethics Education Committee meeting at ISHA convention. I listened to the esteemed group discuss the construct of ethics and a variety of related topics from a high-level perspective. I wondered about the things I am asked, at times told, to do on a regular basis in my work setting. Cautiously, I asked questions about practical challenges and everyday ethics. I recall the group pausing to reflect for a bit then asking me more questions. It was then they suggested I be the chairperson of the committee. Say what? Afraid to say yes, but more afraid to say no, I began my tenure as Chair.


Of course, volunteering feels good. You learn leadership skills, you learn from your peers, and maybe you even help create what we hope is a legacy of engaging students in ethical thinking outside of the classroom. What didn’t I know? I would make lifelong friends. One of them I call “my rock” though she says it is more of a “pebble”.

I recognized that it is time to pass the torch and with some nudging, new voices will lead this committee. You don’t need experience, you need passion, mentors, and a great team to support you. I am grateful for our co-chairs and that they have the bravery to step into these new roles. It is tough to be vulnerable and try something new, but the rewards are well worth it. 

The one criticism we have had over the years is that our focus on school-based providers was limited. It was true as most of our committee practiced elsewhere. Stay tuned because we have some passionate folks living those challenges and sharing information. 

Stepping aside is bittersweet and necessary. I am grateful to the committee members past and present and proudly pass the torch to our new co-chairs Amy Burke and Tina Panzl. I hope your experience is both personally and professionally rewarding.

Michelle serves as the Chair of ISHA's Ethics Education Committee and Task Force Chair of ISHA's new Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) Task Force. She is passionate about teaching and learning with her students and colleagues through interprofessional collaboration, and honoring what we all bring to the table to serve patients/clients and their families.