Creativity in the Time of COVID

Author: Susan Abdel-Rahman, PharmD Published on 5/6/2020 1:12:00 PM

Something you may not know about ASCPT is how much time and planning go into the Annual Meeting. The venue, hotel block, and food & beverage contracts are secured 7-9 years in advance when negotiating a multi-year agreement; A/V, decorating, and freight transportation arrangements occur up to 5 years out; contracts with our on-line vendor for proposal/abstract submission and the meeting app are executed up to 4 years out; and “last-minute” negotiations for extra pre-conference meeting space and sleeping rooms take place at least 2 years out. Long before one Annual Meeting is over, planning for the next meeting has already begun. As part of this preparative activity, we work hard to remain abreast of everything happening in the meeting city and are constantly reviewing and revising possible meeting scenarios, in essence contingency planning, to ensure a seamless experience for our members/attendees.  

This year is no exception. As we look forward to 2021, recent news reports remind us that Washington, D.C. has become a hot spot for coronavirus. The city is currently experiencing the highest rate of growth in new cases among the nation’s 10 largest metro areas. Over 75% of the hospitality sector has been furloughed with no clear timeline for staging re-openings. Even when restrictions have lifted, physical distancing may still be in full effect, a much-preferred term to social distancing which ASCPT is remedying with initiatives like 45-Days of Recognition (and I am attempting to relieve among my colleagues by creating/coordinating a weekly Quarantine Bingo challenge, rules and game boards available upon request). 

Imagine, the ASCPT Annual Meeting with rooms reconfigured to accommodate 6 feet of space between our members. In fact, this is exactly what we have been doing. Though a refreshing return to grade-school geometry, it does require a reimagining of our Annual Meeting landscape, very apropos of the meeting theme. So, while you are Reimagining the Therapeutic Landscape, as you prepare to respond to the call for proposals, we would ask you to get creative and explore session formats that would work well under conditions we might experience in 2021. Don’t be afraid to move beyond the podium, explore more audience engagement, more TED-style talks, etc. No idea is too strange (…well, okay, maybe some are but we welcome them anyway). While you are thinking about meeting programming, don’t forget to consider nominating a colleague for an ASCPT award. It is a wonderful way to recognize all of the amazing work taking place by our members (shout out to the Journal Editorial Teams, the Webinar Committee, and the COVID-19 Rapid Response Task Force for ramping up efforts during an already busy time). 

As promised, I will update you on the fiscal impact of the 2020 meeting cancellation as soon as permissible and, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or our exceptional staff with comments, questions, suggestions, and opinions that allow us to better serve you.

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