Why Do I Have to Complete Those Stupid Meeting Evaluations?

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
November 16, 2010

I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard that said at or after an ICHP Annual or Spring Meeting! And you know what…you don’t have to complete those stupid meeting evaluation forms. However, if you want to make ICHP meetings better, your constructive input is not only requested, it is highly valued! It’s what will make the next meeting even better!

This year’s Annual Meeting drew just over 350 attendees counting pharmacists, students, technicians, speakers and staff. The only people we don’t count are the exhibitors, and there were probably more than 125 of them between the 50 pharmaceutical manufacturers, service providers, wholesalers, and colleges of pharmacy. This is something I need to talk to many of you about.

This year’s exhibit program drew more exhibitors than the last several ICHP Annual Meetings, and that’s great news! But unless each attendee makes a concerted effort to talk with someone in each exhibit booth, that may not continue. Decision makers (directors of pharmacy, clinical coordinators and pharmacy buyers, this means you especially) really need to suck it up and make sure you see if there’s anything new from our industry folks because you are the people they pay to see.

And what if everyone ignores my pleas? The exhibitors will stop coming to the Annual Meeting, and the money we collect that provides them the space so they can talk to you, the money that now pays for much of the food, speakers, folders and more that you enjoy, will have to come from somewhere else. Got any ideas? I do, and most folks aren’t going to like the increase in meeting registration fees!

The good news is that of the 137 diligent individuals who completed their evaluation forms this year, 97% felt the format and content of the meeting allowed them to maximize their educational opportunities. About 87% felt that they maximized their networking opportunities, so we will work on that to get it up in the high 90th percentile. About 95% of those responding felt the food and facilities were good this year. Several individuals made it a point to personally tell me that the food was great! Glad to hear that. None of the respondents complained about the handouts being on a CD, so if you weren’t happy, this is another reason to let us know. Over 90% of those responding liked both the lecture and pearl formats for programming, but only 74% agreed or strongly agreed that the roundtable discussions were what they wanted. I think this is because many of us don’t like being put on the spot with others we may not know. I don’t disagree, but I’ve found I learn more from an open discussion format as part of a continuing education program. The implementation of Pearls sessions is a direct result of attendee input and response, so you can see we do listen!

This year we held the Annual Meeting in August, earlier than we have ever held a fall meeting and while we attracted a great crowd, we asked you all if this were something you’d like to do again. About 53% of the replies favored a return to September while 47% thought August was fine. A few indicated they would even be happy in October, and we will continue to consider all months for the best fit. One of the problems the staff faces when scheduling the Annual Meeting in the fall is working around all the holidays. This year we goofed (and we have done it before) and scheduled the Annual Meeting during Ramadan. Fortunately, it won’t happen next year and for several years to come since Ramadan is moving more into the summer. In addition, we have the two Jewish holidays of Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah which usually fall in September and often near weekends as they did this year. While only a percentage of our members celebrate these three religious holidays, virtually everyone would like to celebrate Labor Day weekend with family and friends and not ICHP! So as you can see we do what we can but we also keep asking.

The schedule this year was a challenge for many of our pharmacy student members although we drew more students this year than ever before! We will continue to try to make sure the students are back in school, but even if they aren’t, with proper advertisement and the right registration fees, I think we will be able to entice them to join us for at least the Saturday morning educational programming and the Saturday afternoon residency showcase!

Speaking of students, I’m still not sure why only three preceptors took us up on the dramatic preceptor/student discount this year? However, next year we’re going to ask our attendees if they knew about the offer (less than half the cost of a pharmacist full registration for the pharmacist preceptor and the student combined!). This reduced rate is ICHP’s attempt to encourage more pharmacists to serve our colleges of pharmacy as preceptors for IPPE and APPE rotations!

From the general comments we received, we gathered a couple of good ideas that are already in the works for next year! One participant suggested one general session after lunch on Saturday (the final day of the meeting) to provide a bigger crowd with better participation. We’ve heard you, and we’re planning on it! Another individual suggested that each ICHP statewide meeting feature a law program and indicate it on the attendance record. Actually, we did have a law session this year, but we didn’t highlight it in the syllabus or on the attendance form. It is coded in the ACPE Universal Activity Number but you have to know how to decipher the code, so maybe we’ll even teach you to do that, too. We’ll make sure that law programs are easily identified so that certified pharmacy technicians and pharmacists licensed in states that require a specific number of hours of law CE know how to find these programs.

Most all the comments were positive and encouraging which helps our meeting planning volunteers and staff continue to serve you with enthusiasm. One comment we have heard loud and clear and are working on is improving the online program evaluation process! When HealthSystemCE.org was first developed, it was not intended for live program evaluations…and especially not for live multi-session program evaluations. So as we work with our contractor to refine and improve the process, please bear with us. Eventually, we hope that the online process will be easier than the old paper and pencil process. Albeit, a few of you won’t be able to complete your evaluations during or prior to the session you are sitting in, which means they will now be more accurate and you will be able to enjoy what is being presented for the full 60 minutes.

Here’s my final challenge to our meeting attendees: tell us what you think needs to be evaluated next! If you think we should be asking meeting attendees something specific, suggest it for the next meeting. We can add one or two questions to a particular meeting evaluation, and if it could help us improve our processes, we’ll make sure to add it. We also want to make sure that the survey is reasonable so more people will provide the answers.

The evaluations that we ask you to complete are designed to get your feedback on how the meeting went, how we can improve it and what you want to learn next. Without your feedback, we’re throwing darts in the dark. That is not only inefficient, it can be downright dangerous! Help us hit the bulls-eye of your meeting experience!

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