SHCA Chapter Toolkit - Education
- Who's in Charge
- Program Committee
- Frequency & Duration of Conference
- Types of Programs
- Pick the Dates
- Prepare a Budget
- Materials Checklist
Speakers & Topics
- Why Content Is Critical
- Determining Member Needs & Wants
- Balancing Social vs. Educational Programs
- Identifying Speakers Potential Topics
- Chapter Program Archive
- Confirming Speakers
- Handouts and Submissions
Sponsorship & Revenue
One of SHCA’s and your chapter’s goals should be to provide your members with opportunities to grow professionally. By developing a chapter continuing education program, you can provide a vehicle for members to gain the knowledge, understanding and skills they need. At the same time, you will be encouraging member participation in the chapter’s activities, and enhancing SHCA’s image as the organization of choice for individuals working in all aspects of healthcare risk management.
To measure the success of your educational program, keep in mind the following aspects of the experience throughout the planning process.
Programmatic objectives -- What do you hope to accomplish? How many members do you want to reach? How extensive an educational program can you implement?
Financial objectives -- How much money can the chapter spend on educational programming? Do you expect to make money on the programs?
Responsibility for the Conferences
Most chapters consider the education of their members to be the most important part of their activities and the responsibility of the Chairperson of the Conference Committee to be a high level position within the chapter.
The responsibility should rest with a member of chapter’s Board of Directors. Often the Vice President or President Elect fills this role.
Description of the Duties
The major tasks of the Chairperson of the Program Committee is to arrange the educational conferences for the chapter including:
- Recruiting members of the committee
- Selecting a venue for conferences
- Arranging presentations for conferences
- Preparing handouts and materials for distribution at conferences
The single most important thing about arranging a successful conference is to choose a program committee that will work well together and has sufficient diversity to suggest ideas and speakers who will stimulate the chapter’s membership.
Individuals should be asked to volunteer for the Program Committee. However, that doesn’t mean that you will want everyone who volunteers or that you will get sufficient diversity from those who volunteer.
Don’t be shy! Call people you think would be an addition to the committee and ask them to participate.
The best committee is 5 to 6 people. Any larger and it getsq unwieldy and any smaller and you don’t have enough diversity. The ideal committee should include:
- Several hospital based patient representatives preferably including at least one from an academic medical center and from a regional or community hospital
- Several from clinic/foundation/medical group
- Perhaps a vendor – Vendors can bring a different perspective which can be very helpful
This provides a spread of people with different ideas who also have access to an interesting array of potential topics and speakers.
The duties of the committee should be codified in a policy or procedure document that is approved by the Board of Directors.
The chapter will need to decide how many conferences they wish to conduct each year and how long each of the conferences should last. Among the options:
- Monthly lunch or breakfast meetings with a single speaker
- Full day sessions with 5 or 6 speakers held annually or semiannually
- Multi-day sessions
Typically, some chapters have one annual conference that is 2 – 3 days and one half day or one day regional education session.
The frequency and duration of the conferences will depend upon:
- The strength of the chapter’s treasury
- The educational content and the time needed to present it
- The geographic disparity of the chapter.
Monthly, in-person meetings are not recommended for chapters whose members have to travel long distances to attend the meetings. Also, each conference increases the cost to the chapter.
Therefore, the Board of Directors should determine how much the chapter has available for educational conferences and number and type of conferences it is able to provide to its members.
Also remember that SHCA offers webinars that are available and each chapter can subsidize the fees for its members at centralized locations or conduct its own distance learning conferences.
Types of Programs
One-day Seminars and Workshops
The seminar or workshop is the ideal way to teach new skills or engage members in an in depth learning experience. Because of their intense nature, these are most effective with small groups ranging in size from 10 to 40, depending on the subject matter or format planned. Their small size also enables all the attendees to actively participate in the discussion process.
Seminars tend to be more academic in nature, often focusing on theory, and are specialized study sessions led by an authority on the subject who can assist and guide the learners, and who provides them with detailed materials and texts. The format usually consists of a short lecture or presentation followed by small group discussions that then report their results back to the group. Workshops generally refer to a more “hands on” learning experience and are especially useful when the desired outcome is enhancement of a skill. Both create an atmosphere of great involvement and team spirit.
Business meetings that are purposeful, well run and accomplish the necessary business in a reasonable time are an important component in the smooth operation of a chapter. All too often, however, the only people who attend such meetings are the chapter officers. One way to broaden the group of attendees is to schedule an educational program in conjunction with the chapter business meeting or at the regional education days.. In addition to benefiting from the program, members will have greater exposure to the issues the chapter faces, and, of course, there will be an increased possibility of their participation in chapter activities.
Many organizations find that combining the organization's business with meeting member needs to be so successful that they routinely schedule programs along with chapter business meetings. The caveat is that the business meeting needs to be efficient and effective or people will attend only the program, or not at all.
The term “conference” often signifies a large meeting of several days’ duration. In fact conferences can range in size from 25 to more than 200 attendees, and can be as brief as a half day, or as long as 2 or 3 days. The term conference is usually reserved for an educational program that includes multiple elements from technical papers and presentations, to lectures and speeches, many of which occur simultaneously. A conference can accommodate larger audiences, and both the program content and format of presentations can be varied, thereby appealing to the widest possible audience.
Pick conference dates at least six months and preferably nine months in advance of the meeting:
- Remember to avoid holidays, especially religious ones. Setting a program date close to a major holiday may result in lower attendance and a higher room rental fee. Be cognizant of other programs being conducted in your area and nationally such as the SHCA Annual Conference.
- Send a "Save the Date" announcement as soon as conference dates are selected to assure that the members have the dates on their calendars.
The chapter’s Board of Directors should decide in advance whether they want the educational conferences to:
- Make money or show a profit, which will be used to support other chapter activities;
- Break even and provide a strong educational focus for the members; or
- Lose money and be supported by other chapter revenues, such as exhibitor fees or dues
This basic decision will determine how the budget is constructed. The budget should consist of two sections:
1. Revenue. The three basic source of revenue for conferences are:
- Fees paid by attendee
- Contributions from the chapter’s treasury
2. Expenses. This includes all the items necessary for the conference, including:
- Room rental
- Food and beverage
- Speaker fees, honoraria, expense reimbursement or gift
- Copy and duplicating of notices, handouts, etc.
- Administrative time and expenses
- Items given to the attendees such as pens, bags, etc.
Make sure to carefully consider all of your expenses. The goal is to have the expenses equal the revenue. If they do not, the conference has lost money.
However, keep in mind that most chapters are nonprofit entities. Losing money is not necessarily a bad thing. Just be aware that if an educational conference loses money, the funds must come from “somewhere” and that “somewhere” is the chapter’s treasury. The chapter treasury is not an inexhaustible source of funds.
The budget is not “cast in stone” at the beginning of the conference. It should be reevaluated at each step of the process.
Know your potential audience for a particular program and assess the degree to which a particular fee is fair and tolerable. Affordability is often an important consideration in the decision to attend a particular program, and you can often determine this information as part of the needs assessment process. You will probably want to charge a lower fee if participants will be paying for the program themselves.
The chapter will have to balance two alternatives in planning a conference at a “break even” conference; i.e. one that does not draw funds from the chapter’s treasury:
1. Charging the participants an amount sufficient to cover the cost of the conference or
2. Seeking sponsorship.
This is a decision that should be made by the Board of Directors and should be reevaluated periodically.
For each conference make sure you develop these materials (click on the links below for sample documents):
- Program brochure – sample
- Evaluation form – sample
- An agenda for the day to be included in the package of handouts given to the attendees
- Name badges
- A certificate of attendance and CEUS - sample
- Receipt - sample
- A page to recognize the sponsors (should you choose to solicit sponsorship) that will be passed out to the attendees
- PowerPoint slides for the beginning of the conference to recognize the sponsors and provide an outline of the opening remarks
The decision on the venue for the conference will depend upon the strength of the chapter’s treasury and the geographic disparity of the chapter. Think in terms of alternating regions or a central location to everyone. Do the members need a place to stay overnight if they travel to attend the conference or look where your membership is situated and other options other than hotels.
Establish where you want the conference(s) to be held. At least every two to three years this decision should be thoroughly researched to determine if there is a better venue for your meetings.
Education day may be comped for non-member of the facility if the function is held at their facility.
If your chapter covers a large geographic area, consider holding multiple conferences during the year in different parts of the territory -- e.g., a spring conference in the western part and a fall conference in the east.
Some possible choices of venues include:
• Hotels. Make sure that the hotel will have not only the appropriate meeting space but also rooms available for any members that will be staying over.
• Restaurants with appropriate meeting space
• Colleges and universities often have conference facilities available
• Meeting rooms at a member’s facility
• The state hospital association or other similar organizations may have conference and meeting rooms available for free or at a very modest cost.
If the conference is to be held at a hotel, restaurant or other rented facility, a contract will generally be required. Some of the charges are likely to be:
• Room Charges for the meeting room
• If you reserve rooms for members staying overnight, the hotel may require a guarantee of a minimum number of rooms to be filled.
• Minimum Expenditure on Food
• All audiovisual equipment is priced separately. It is suggested that one of the members brings an LCD projector and laptop computer for PowerPoint presentations. These are very expensive to rent from a hotel or restaurant. Many hospitals and vendors have the equipment available and will loan it to the chapter for the conference.
Read the contract carefully. Many contracts require the chapter to have general liability insurance and/or hold the venue harmless in case of the injuries during the conference. These clauses should be avoided.
Don’t forget to add Force Majeur Clauses to the contract to avoid penalties for cancellations due to blizzard, hurricanes, etc.
The room arrangement is also a critical element in creating a successful program. In addition to temperature of the room, lighting, sound and the amount of space, the chairs themselves and how they are arranged can determine whether participants find the experience comfortable and conducive to learning.
Room set-up typically is classroom, round, square or rectangular tables. The more informal the arrangements, the greater the possibility of dialogue among the participants -- a factor that is critical to the learning that takes place within these groups.
Appropriate sound and audiovisual aids can greatly enhance the learning experience if the sound equipment and visual aid materials are appropriately selected and used.
Guidelines for audiovisuals
Keep the following tips in mind when using audiovisual aids:
- Audiovisual materials should not replace a speaker but rather enhance the presentation.
- Keep visuals simple, including only information necessary to clarify or emphasize the presentation.
- A dark background with light text is recommended for maximum visibility by attendees. However, for duplicating handouts, the dark background does not print well, so consider changing the background for duplication purposes - black and white or grayscale or in color.
- Faculty should test visual aids with their speech to determine how well the A/V and sound fit in with their speech and to put them at ease with their material, helping the presentation to run smoothly.
- Convert handouts into pdf files if you are having people print ther own handouts.
Possible Audiovisual needs:
- Laptop & remote control
- LCD projector
- Flip charts & markers
- Microphone lavaliere
- Laser pointer
- DVD player & monitor
- Speaker for laptop
A lectern microphone is generally used for making announcements and introducing speakers. It is recommended that faculty use a lavaliere microphone, since rapport with the audience is easier to develop if the faculty moves around the room, rather than standing behind a lectern.
If you plan to audiotape a session, get written permission from the faculty at the outset of the planning process and, as with other permissions, clearly communicate a deadline to submit such permission forms.
Tapes can be an added benefit for attendees, as well as those who could either not attend the conference or could not attend a particular session of interest. These tapes could be a valuable learning tool and can offer a valuable source of revenue. Provided you can record a high quality master, duplication is relatively cheap and can be made professionally from a regular cassette tape. Look for local vendors online or in the yellow pages.
The first and most important element in an educational program is meeting the needs of your members.
There is a direct correlation between attendance at an educational program and the relevance of the subject matter. By focusing your programs on current and future problems or issues facing healthcare management. You can have a direct impact on how your members face these issues.
It is critical, therefore, that you undertake a systematic process of assessing your members’ needs and interests.
As a chapter and professional leader, you may see a particular issue as having an impact, but many of your members may not. Under those circumstances, educational programming may have to be used to create awareness about those particular issues that do not surface in a member needs assessment.
Performing a needs assessment or using previous evaluation forms that asks for future topics will be helpful in deciding content.
An educational program committee is vital to ensuring broad member involvement in chapter activities. But remember: this relatively small group may not be totally representative of the membership and may not have sufficient information to plan the types of programs that will appeal to a broad cross section of your members.
A systematic process for extracting member input in identifying the educational needs and desires will enable the committee to plan based on concrete information.
To be sure you have accurate data, it is helpful to use at least two of the different methods of collecting data on members’ needs and desires. The following methods are among those most useful and easy to implement:
- Discussions with key individuals, leaders and experts in the field can provide information and insight about problems or issues they face or anticipate facing.
- Questionnaires and surveys are useful ways to elicit information or confirm problems and issues that have already been identified.
- Written evaluations of previous programs, particularly when a place for comments and suggestions is included, provide valuable insight into members’ reactions to both content and format.
- Articles appearing in SHCA’s News or conversations in the member list serve are an excellent source of problems or trends that face the industry.
- Programs and speakers for other chapters, which can be found through SHCA’s calendar of chapter events
In the process of collecting this data, it is important to differentiate between different groups of your members. Their professional position, degree of experience and academic background are all factors that have an impact on the type of educational offering they will want.
In addition to the importance of professional development and keeping up with trends and information in healthcare, patient advocates, patient representatiaves, like members of most other associations, want to interact with people who have similar interests and concerns.
Networking with other professionals is an educational experience in itself, where people share with each other problems they face and solutions they have found. Therefore, it is critical to include opportunities for socializing and networking in every educational experience. For many people it’s the primary reason they attend.
The easiest and most interesting part of the program committee’s tasks is to identify topics and speakers. Tips for this process include:
- Try to get the committee together in person for at least one initial meeting and brainstorming sessions, if geographically possible.
- Keep track of all the suggestions from the brain storming sessions and from the suggestions submitted on the Evaluation Forms from previous conferences and any survey you conducted.
- Set up a word document or excel spreadsheet with all the contact information for each committee member. It is difficult to set up the conference calls without it.
The topics should be timely and have a wide ranging appeal. No one can tell you in advance what these might be. However, shortly after selecting your speakers each one should be contacted individually by a member of the committee. Most individuals who are requested to speak will be flattered by the invitation and accept.
The chapter will need to decide whether or not to pay for speakers. In general you may want to consider a modest honorarium or stipend if:
- The potential speaker is self-employed
- The potential speaker is not a member of the chapter and
- The potential speaker derives no economic benefit from the presentation
Set limits on the amount of the honorarium both for an individual speaker and for the conference as a whole. If the “honorarium” for speakers exceeds the limits, a vote of the Board of Directors should be required.
In addition to the decision of honoraria, decide other expenses such as travel, meals, hotel, etc.
SHCA also has some information on speakers they have used in the past and may be of assistance in locating speakers on specific topics.
When the speakers accept the invitation, their acceptance should be confirmed in a letter/email, including the following information:
- Thanking them for agreeing to speak,
- Confirming the date and time and topic of their presentation and
- Spelling out exactly what you will need from the speakers and the time frame that you need it.
You will need:
- A title for their presentation to be used in the brochure
- A copy of their CV or bio
- A brief session summary for their presentation to be used in the brochure
- Handouts and/or PowerPoint slides
The first two items above will be needed before the brochure can be finalized and mailed -- i.e., approximately 60 days prior to the conference date. Be prepared to follow up with the speakers frequently in order to obtain the material.
After the conference, be sure to send each speaker a thank you letter.
For a larger meeting, you may want to bind session materials, produce a conference proceedings handouts, CD or book. With this in mind, it is a good idea to offer guidelines to the speakers both to make the process of collecting all session materials easy and to make the production process move along easily and on schedule.
It is a good idea to get written permission up-front to reproduce session handouts from the faculty.
Let the speakers know what format you would like them to submit their materials -- e.g., on disk or CD, by e-mail or U.S. Mail or fax (faxed copies will yield poor quality copies). Let them know where to send materials and, most importantly, when.
If an electronic file is preferable, let them know what application you would like them to use, e.g. Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. Request paper copies to accompany any electronic file so that everyone is clear on how they should look.
Handouts should be provided at least two weeks prior to the conference. If speakers are unable to provide these in a timely fashion, ask them to make the appropriate number of copies for distribution.
The following guidelines are suggested for paper copies:
- Limit handouts/session materials to a maximum of 25 pages.
- All pages should have a one-inch margin on all sides.
- Handouts should be prepared with a minimum type size of 10-point font.
- If you are using PowerPoint or a similar presentation software package to print handouts, please print three slides per page in the black and white mode.
- Clip art is permitted, using discretion.
- Obtain any necessary permission to reprint published material, and incorporate any necessary wording required by the publisher on the reprinted items.
- Your chapter reserves the right not to print material that may be inappropriate or otherwise in conflict of interest with the membership.
- Clearly communicate a submission deadline.
PowerPoint presentations will be needed at least a week prior to the conference so they can be loaded on the laptop prior to sessions or can be copied onto a CD to avoid frequently changing laptops during the program.
Publicity for conferences and educational programs is easy to obtain. Consider the following methods of reaching chapter members:
- Send Save the Date announcements electronically to all the members as soon as you have the dates set for the year and at least two months before each conference.
Click here for a sample Save the Date notice
- Put an announcement of the conference in any newsletter the chapter produces.
- Post the dates and information on your chapter’s web site.
- Mail the final program brochure to your members.
- Determine if you wish to invite nonmembers to the conference. Some likely choices are SHCA chapters in neighboring states, quality improvement or patient safety professionals, etc. Many organizations will be happy to post an announcement for a conference their members may find educational.
Have SHCA add the conferences to their Chapter’s Calendar and to the bi-weekly e-News newsletter. All SHCA needs is a copy of the brochure. Send materials to SHCA at:
155 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 400
Chicago, IL 60606
If you are inviting nonmembers to your event, SHCA can assist you with contacting chapters in neighboring states and can provide a list of SHCA members to whom you can market your event.
If content is applicable to other healthcare diciplines, consider inviting other disciplines. For example a topic on end-of-life issues, you may want to invite chaplains, social workers, palliative care staff.
If you decide to solicit sponsorship, you will first want to determine what types of organization you will solicit for sponsorship. What do your chapter members purchase? These companies are your likely sponsors.
Types of sponsors
- Patient satisfaction
- Complaint management/tracking
- Interpreter services
- Translation services
- Health aid tracking device
- Recognition programs
- Educational institutions
Develop a spreadsheet with the names, addresses, phone, fax and email for each potential sponsor.
The sponsors can be your exhibitor/vendors.
Contributions can include sponsorship of:
- An event, e.g., lunch, breakfast, break or opening reception
- Handouts to the participants
- Miscellaneous items given to the participants, e.g., bags, briefcases, portfolios, pens, badge lanyards
- General sponsorship of the conference. Consider levels of sponsorship, such as gold, silver, bronze
Solicitation materials/Vendor relationship
Develop a solicitation letter describing the conference and asking for contributions.
Tips for this process:
- Follow up with telephone calls as necessary. Hint: It will be necessary to call some of the sponsors two or three times. Allow for sufficient time to do this.
- Write a confirmation letter to the sponsor/exhibitor and the letter should request the information/bio so it can be used to introduce the sponsor/exhibitor during the conference.
- Develop a sponsor recognition page to be included in the conference proceedings book providing contact information for each of the sponsors.
- Develop a thank you letter and/or a certificate of appreciation to be given to the exhibitor at the conference or send to each sponsor and exhibitor afterwards.
Make sure each sponsor and exhibitor receives an individual thank-you letter. Consider recognizing sponsors at the beginning of conference sessions using their logos projected onto the screen.
If complementary registrations are included for sponsors, be sure to ask the sponsor who will use the registration and have conferences badges prepared for them.
There may be different levels of sponsorship based on the amount paid, For example, an $800 sponsorship may include a 5 minute talk during the conference with a 6 foot table space and an add in the chapter newsletter. A $700 sponsorship may include the 5 minute talk during the conference with a 6 foot table space. $500 sponsorship may be a 6 foot table space, $300 may be a ½ table space for just brochures and no vendor staff. You can have fun with naming the sponsorship such as Gold Sponsor, Silver Sponsor, Patron, etc.
They may receive a copy of your attendee roster or membership list. This would be your board’s decision whether to include emails and phone numbers.
There are a number of different ways you can supplement the costs of a particular program in order to keep the fee low. If you include a meal function, you can often charge enough to cover basic program costs. An excellent way to attract potential members, as well as add to the balance sheet, is to invite nonmembers and charge them a higher fee.
Silent auction, 50/50 raffle, special gift raffle are other ways to supplement revenue.