What are SGIM’s plans for regional meetings next year?
After determining that we could not hold SGIM’s in-person national meeting scheduled for May 6-9, 2020, we reassessed plans for SGIM’s seven regional meetings scheduled to be held September 2020-February 2021. Working with the Board of Regional Leaders (BRL), the SGIM meetings team identified important concerns emanating from the COVID-19 crisis: 1) uncertainty about a second wave of the pandemic; 2) state-to-state variation in policies about large group gatherings; 3) the impact of new hygiene standards on meeting facilities; 4) uncertainty about availability and cost of vendors; 5) institutional restrictions on travel and cutbacks in funding for professional expenses; and 6) potential effects of salary reductions, furloughs, and unemployment on members and their families. Fortunately, all seven regions have financial reserves exceeding 50% of their annual operating expenses, even though their by-laws only require reserves to exceed 25% of annual operating expenses.
With those considerations in mind, the BRL considered three options: 1) proceed with face-to-face regional meetings; 2) conduct regional meetings virtually; or 3) develop hybrid meetings involving a combination of virtual and face-to-face participation. The BRL chose the second option, with a focus on offering as much networking and attendee interaction as possible. In the coming months, regional leaders will thus be developing novel ways to support the SGIM community through virtual regional meetings. SGIM staff will be looking for the best platform and processes to support interactive virtual meetings. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that emerge from re-imagining the content and format of the regional meetings, as well as from re-defining their role in providing an easily accessible forum for discussing topics in research, education, and clinical medicine.
What are SGIM’s plans for the 2021 Annual Meeting?
We have identified a theme and are assembling the planning committee for the 2021 Annual Meeting, currently scheduled for April 21–24 in Boston. Due to concerns that the pandemic may last more than a year,1 we concurrently are considering how to best meet the spirit and purpose of the Annual Meeting while acknowledging the significant impacts of the pandemic on the ability to hold in-person conferences. As you may have heard, the Association of American Medical Colleges recently decided to cancel all planned in-person meetings through June of 2021.2
When the SGIM Council met on May 8, 2020, we reviewed three options for the Annual Meeting: 1) proceed with plans for an in-person meeting; 2) shift to planning for a fully virtual meeting; or 3) prepare for a hybrid meeting involving a combination of virtual and face-to-face participation. The options have widely varying implications for SGIM’s budget because the meeting is our largest source of revenue. The Council did not make a final decision because too many factors remain uncertain. However, the Council is firmly committed to having an inspiring Annual Meeting in 2021 because of its central role in the life of the organization.
In the meantime, the SGIM team is working hard to deliver to members through SGIM20 On-Demand much of the content that was scheduled for the 2020 Annual Meeting. As indicated on our Web site,3 SGIM20 On-Demand includes plenary speakers, special symposia, clinical updates, oral abstracts, clinical vignettes, and posters originally scheduled to be presented at the 2020 Annual Meeting. Recognizing that universities are cutting back on faculty funds for continuing education and travel, we decided to offer SGIM20 On-Demand to members for free. In addition, we will give members that use SGIM20 On-Demand up to 30 continuing medical education (CME) and maintenance of certification (MOC) credits for a very low price of $295 ($795 for non-members).
We expect to learn a lot from SGIM20 On Demand that will help guide our approach to what we offer to members virtually when they cannot attend a meeting in person. We also expect that innovations with virtual meetings will generate new ideas for supporting the vital networking function that gives SGIM such a strong sense of community committed to an inspiring mission—to cultivate innovative educators, researchers, and clinicians in academic general internal medicine, leading the way to better health for everyone!
(In the next issue of the Forum, we will address additional questions about SGIM’s plans.)