As Jade Myers set out to help create the virtual platform for SHM Converge, she was aware, through surveys and other communication, that the top wish of members of the Society of Hospital Medicine was an extensive and interactive educational experience.
“People really wanted to get back to the in-person conference,” said Ms. Myers, SHM’s director of meetings. “While we couldn’t do that, we can provide the same caliber and as robust an experience from an educational perspective as we would for an in-person activity.”
That has required significant revamping of the virtual platform compared to the platform for last year’s annual conference. In 2020, there was only one session running live at a time. This year, there will be 12 sessions running at the same time. There will also be more opportunities for networking, as well as other features for enjoyment and a sense of calm.
Here are some features of the SHM Converge platform:
- A host segment to kick-start each day, with an introduction of the day’s sessions and events.
- Nine didactic educational sessions at any given time. These sessions will include a live chat for peer-to-peer engagement, as well as questions and answers throughout the session to continue the discussion between speakers and participants.
- Three workshops at any given time. These sessions – on topics such as communication, gender equity, and clinical guidelines – will provide an opportunity for dynamic small-group discussion.
- A scientific abstract poster competition and reception, with an e-gallery of about 700 posters, providing a networking opportunity and highlighting emerging scientific and clinical cases.
- Special Interest Forums, in the form of live, interactive Zoom conferences. There will be 25 forums, which are designed to build community and facilitate collaboration.
- A variety of games, including trivia and a word scramble.
- Personalized profiles with information such as “Hospitalist in Training,” or “Committee Member.” These will be visible to other attendees to make it easier for people to connect when they have something in common.
- Early- and Mid-Career Speed Mentorship, in which a mentor and mentee can interact one-on-one, with each mentee able to meet with two mentors, with pairings designed for the best mentorship experience.
- Sessions on wellness and resilience.
“People are kind of Zoom fatigued,” Ms. Myers said, “so we’re trying to meet their needs while also offering an opportunity for respite, because our attendees are on the front lines right now, and they’re dealing with all types of fatigue and challenging times.”
The annual conference was on target for a banner year in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the in-person conference in San Diego, and SHM Converge is a product of planning that began then, as organizers started considering a virtual event.
“In 2020, we were slated to have the largest conference in person that we have ever had,” said Hayleigh Scott, SHM’s meeting projects manager. “San Diego was going to be our really big year.”
But attendance at last year’s virtual conference was a fraction of what was expected at the in-person conference. This year, that seems poised to improve. There will be many more offerings, with more than 125 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and 45 Maintenance of Certification points possible, Ms. Myers said. Because attendees won’t have to worry about being in two places at once, it will be possible to secure more CME credits at SHM Converge than at any previous SHM annual conference, she said.
The volume of content will be a heavy load on SHM personnel. Last year, three society staff members were on hand at each session to make sure it ran smoothly and to answer questions. With 12 sessions running simultaneously this year, many more staff members will need to be involved. But that is not unfamiliar for the society during meeting week, Ms. Myers said.
“We’re going to need to pull from pretty much our entire staff in order to make this conference happen, which is exciting and daunting,” she said. “It’s always been an all-hands-on-deck program and this is going to be more similar to an in-person conference in that way.”