Reproductive medicine and its plethora of life-altering procedures affect people all over the world. Every year, the team behind the American Society for Reproductive Medicine brings this medical community together for the ASRM Congress and Expo to champion and advance this vital and passionate work.
We talked with ASRM executive director and CEO Richard Reindollar and Chief Scientific Officer Andrew La Barbera, PhD, HCLD about the annual meeting and the important roles networking and interactive education play in conference experiences.
Q: Give some background on ASRM and the important work you do.
Andrew La Barbera (ALB): ASRM is a professional medical society and our primary mission is to advance the profession of reproductive medicine.
Richard Reindollar (RR): It’s an organization of 8,000 members, 30 percent of whom are international. We look at many aspects of reproductive medicine care, but primarily focus on infertility and in vitro fertilization. We advance the education of health care professionals as well as patients.
Q. Tell us about your annual event and why you bring this community together.
ALB: The ASRM Congress and Expo brings people from all over the world together to exchange information, gather ideas, and explore new ways of thinking and approaches to patient care. Through this experience, they gain new knowledge and confidence so they can go back to their practices and incorporate what they’ve learned.
Q. We all learn by doing. What hands-on experiences did ASRM offer to elevate and enhance education?
RR. We wanted to not only emphasize the scientific congress, the plenary lectures, and all the interactive sessions, but we also wanted the Expo to become a place for networking with industry colleagues while also allowing for new types of congregation. Networking truly is critical to the mission of education. And we introduced the new Simulation Pavilion where members can experience and learn about embryo transfer simulation, intrauterine insemination simulation, or even how to perform an ultrasound for embryo transfer.
ALB: The Pavilion was designed to draw people into the Expo and make it more participatory. Inside, the simulations provide an opportunity for new physicians and personnel to practice the procedure in a realistic environment. It offers both the tactile similarity to the actual situation as well as the ability to see what the procedure entails as they perform it. It’s training through a hands-on experience.
RR. It’s a part of our strategic plan to utilize these new learning pedagogues that actually enhance retention.
Q. How did these experiences address retention?
RR: It’s the one-on-one, two-on-one training and the group interactions that get people to think differently. In the process, they recharge their careers. After the event, they go back and really look at what they’re doing in many different ways.
Every year we look at how we can do things differently, so we can be better, more exciting and refreshing. We do that by exploring new interactive and collaborative formats. Because the key to retention is interaction.
Q. When it comes to educating this group, what changes are you seeing?
RR: We’re beginning to look at our younger members: how they network together, how they learn differently, and what they come to the meeting to do and learn. That way we can see how to evolve the experience to meet their needs as well.
Q. Andrew, we understand you are retiring after 40 years in reproductive biology and medicine — congratulations. As someone with that breadth of knowledge in this field, what did you find most appealing about this year’s ASRM Congress?
ALB: There is nothing like seeing and experiencing the latest instruments, techniques, and medicines available today on a first-person basis. It’s an opportunity for people to get the personal, up-close touch and feel that they might not get anywhere else. To actually interact with those things and the vendors who provide them is truly a unique and rewarding experience.