Layout and Schedule Changes, New Offerings
The separation of the exhibits and posters was a result of changes to ACCME guidelines, and the revised layout made navigating the exhibits easier and therefore more enjoyable. The poster area was one of the highest trafficked areas, but if you planned ahead and used the improved indexing features of the online itinerary planner and searched by research method, type of clinical trial, or treatment phase, you could easily conserve energy by going directly to the relevant posters. However, if you preferred to linger over the complimentary coffee and bagels and view a variety of posters, the introduction of the “notable” poster designation made identifying the posters that scored in the top 15% easy. If you were in the poster area around 10:00 am each day, it was hard to miss the enthusiasm for the guided poster tours. The tours were introduced as a pilot initiative in an attempt to demystify research findings. Based on the strong interest expressed by participants, plans are already underway to expand the tours in 2009.
A special thanks to the planning committee for revising the schedule to offer midday study groups. I am sure I am not alone when I say that no more study groups ending after 9:00 pm is a good thing.
The Leadership Town Hall Meeting was another new offering this year. This open public forum allowed members to ask questions and share ideas regarding any aspect of the ACR’s work. Many interesting ideas were raised this year and we invite you to join this ongoing conversation at next year’s meeting.
Another exciting new initiative launched at the 2008 annual meeting was the ARHP Nurse Practitioner & Physician Assistant Postgraduate Rheumatology Training Program. This program was created in direct response to the growing demand by ACR/ARHP members identified, in part, through the ACR workforce survey. The program includes 18 hours of audio-annotated PowerPoint slides—over 2,800 slides, and 631 images. It allows nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other rheumatology health professionals to build competence in interdisciplinary team-based care for persons with rheumatic diseases in an easy, flexible, and affordable way. This is another example of how the ACR is leveraging technology to improve the delivery of education for its members.
The ACR Research and Education Foundation (REF) also launched a number of new initiatives this year. Importantly, the REF Memorial Display was created to honor and remember our deceased ACR colleagues. The REF also updated members on the remarkable success of Within Our Reach, the $30-million campaign to fund innovative RA research. The REF reported that the campaign has reached approximately 80% of its fundraising goal and has already disbursed $12 million to 30 investigators. This important milestone is certainly cause for celebration.