Set Up a Regional ACC WIC Meeting: Seven Steps to a Successful Event

CHAPTER ENGAGEMENT | Below are tips on how to set up a regional ACC Women in Cardiology (WIC) meeting.

Step 1 – Determine Your Region

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  • Where do you have a critical mass of potential attendees?
  • Recruit a very passionate chair who is local to the meeting location and whose chapter executive can support an additional meeting. You will also need ACC WIC champions in each of the participating chapters who can support the chapter's participation.
  • Plan the meeting for a time that will not conflict with existing meetings or other chapter initiatives (such as advocacy).

Step 2 – Timing

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  • Research an optimal date for maximum potential attendance. Keep in mind the competition from state chapter meetings, other member section specific meetings and other large industry meetings. This step is often critical to the success of a meeting.

Step 3 – Roles and Responsibilities

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  • At the start of the process, hold a conference call with the ACC WIC Section chair, prior year's chair and chapter executive, current year's chair and chapter executive, ACC WIC Section Liaison, and ACCF CME representative (if using ACC for CME/MOC). Clearly define roles and responsibilities of each individual.
  • Send an email to the ACC WIC champions stating your intention to start a regional conference. Ask them to participate in the planning committee and to suggest other engaged members to serve on the planning committee. Make sure that you can identify at least one representative from each chapter within your designated region.
  • Step 4 – The Planning Committee

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    • Poll your interested participants and schedule a call. Pick a time that your biggest champion(s), along with the most amount, of people can attend.
      • Keep the calls short, about 30 minutes.
      • Ask for suggestions offline if someone cannot attend.
      • Send out the "asks" in advance and send a wrap up to all members at the end of the call, so everyone stays engaged.
    • Keep minutes of the meetings to refer to during the planning process. Distribute those minutes within three business days of the call to other members of the planning committee to keep everyone updated on committee business.
    • To avoid confusion, one person should be designated as being authorized to make commitments on behalf of the chapter in service of the ACC WIC meeting. However, as much as possible, all commitments should be discussed by the committee as a whole.
    • Assign specific tasks to those who are willing to help, such as recommending speakers or planning and creating the agenda. The chapter executive can help sending out invitations, managing registration, managing logistics and more. However, the chapter executive does not have the same leverage that a member leader does in terms of getting responses and commitments. It is absolutely critical to include the governor on all key requests of volunteers and speaker invitations in order to assure a more timely response.

    Step 5 – Meeting Structure and Format

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    • Think about what is feasible for your inaugural ACC WIC event. It could be a dinner, a half-day event, a full-day event or a two-day event.
    • Determine the topics, speakers and theme you would like to feature at your event.
      • Possible topic ideas could be negotiating skills, financial planning, the ins and outs of part-time vs. full-time work, pregnancy issues, a career in xyz, how to juggle a career and family, and more. The possibilities are limitless.
      • Think about incorporating a panel discussion as part of the program, as it allows more women to be highlighted and engaged.
      • Make sure that you do not overfill the agenda (this happens easily as members of the program committee all want to ensure representation from their chapter). An agenda that becomes too full can result in not enough networking time, not enough time with exhibitors and not enough cushion for inevitable speaker time overages.
      • Use as many local (drivable) speakers as possible. Again, all participating chapters hope for representation. Either shrink the defined region or insist on speakers from within a certain radius (unless they are willing to waive travel), but this is crucial to keep costs down.

    Step 6 – Funding

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    • Historically, the host chapter, meeting chair and chapter executive have solicited sponsorship from neighboring chapters in the region for $2,000 each. There has been some pushback from chapters who do not have large ACC WIC populations in their chapter. It is also a big ask for some chapters. If this is a factor, consider lowering the chapter sponsorship fee and increasing the industry support. I agree that it is a big ask for small chapters. Perhaps consider a tiered approach, based on size of chapter or ACC WIC representation within chapter.
    • VERY IMPORTANT: Because all funds run through the host chapter, industry fund solicitation could potentially conflict with funds the host chapter will solicit for their annual scientific session.
    • Your funding will need to cover the following:
      • Speaker honorariums and travel (This should be limited as much as possible. We exceeded what we predicted on travel. We did not pay honorariums.)
      • Hotel rooms
      • Food and beverage for all meeting activities (receptions, breakfast, lunch, dinner and breaks)
      • Conference room rental (if applicable)
      • Audio visual support
      • Chapter executive fees to support an additional meeting if this is outside of the scope of their contract.
      • Marketing
      • Graphic design
      • Digital ads
      • Printing/postage
    • The budget will vary widely depending on the venue selected.
    • For the inaugural session, there was no ACC funding. The second year, there were two regional meetings and an ACC Grant was awarded. Some of this grant money could be rolled to a future regional conference, but no future grant money is assured.
    • The meeting was open to medical students, residents, Fellows in Training (FITs) and CV Team members, in addition to cardiologists. FITs, students and residents had free registration. Other attendees were $50 each. The committee was adamant that registration should be very low cost for the attendees. So, little funding came from registration.

    Step 7 – Promotion

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    • Send out invitations and promote via email, and post to your chapter website and ACC's WIC Section page (contact ACC WIC Section Liaison). Also take advantage of social media by using #ACCWIC and tagging @ACCinTouch on Twitter, as well as ACC's Women in Cardiology Group on LinkedIn. Think about inviting medical students and internal medicine residents to encourage them to pursue a career in cardiology.
    • Recruit an attendee to write a brief article about the event and how it impacted them. The article can be featured in the ACC WIC monthly newsletter that gets emailed to WIC Section members and posted to the ACC WIC's Section Page. Asking an FIT or Early Career member is a great way to get them more engaged.
    • Encourage your attendees to tweet out photos and updates during the event using #ACCWIC to share with other ACC WIC members on social media. There is a live feed of #ACCWIC on the ACC WIC homepage.
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    This article was authored by Toniya Singh, MBBS, FACC, cardiologist at St. Louis Heart and Vascular in St. Louis, MO.