Strategies for Developing a Successful State Neurological Society: Lessons from Florida
Advocacy in Action
January 10, 2008
A comprehensive list of Florida Society of Neurology (FSN) strategies to improve meeting attendance and value and FSN function
By Michael F. Finkel MD, FAAN
President, Florida Society of Neurology, 2005-2007
To have better attended and more effective meetings, we employ several tactics.
Teaching neurology to non-neurologists
- We use our state faculties and practitioners to teach neurology to non-neurologists in Florida and surrounding states. This has attracted physicians in other specialties, as well as physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, psychologists, physical therapists, electrodiagnostic technicians, and neurology specialty nurses. This boosted attendance by 80 individuals. Larger numbers allow better room rates at the conference hotels.
- Instead of focusing on traditional, long discussions of neurological conditions, the program for neurologists reviews major updates in therapy that have occurred in the past 12 months.
Bringing more residents and fellows into our ranks
- To involve our faculties and neurologists in training, we incorporated a Residents and Fellows Day into the Annual meeting. The FSN gives each Resident and Fellow a $500 grant and free registration to the meeting. They have the opportunity to present posters, and the best submissions are presented as platform presentations. This popular program allows faculties, trainees, and private practitioners to meet each other.
The enthusiasm of the trainees was so strong that we voted four of them onto the Board of Directors, where they work on projects with other Board members. This approach provides supervised Board training, and grooms them for eventual leadership roles.
Improving meeting logistics
- To reduce meeting costs, we use a conference facility in a central Florida location. All speakers receive mileage, meals, and lodging. We chose to forgo speaker honoraria to increase meeting revenues for the FSN and to underwrite the grants to the trainees.
- We give free exhibition space at the conference to the state associations for physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, and electrodiagnostic technicians in exchange for free advertising of our meeting in their publications and email notices.
To attract state neurologists, we have also worked to give the FSN a clear purpose within Florida. We decided to form an effective voice for neurological advocacy, requiring the involvement of state neurologists and groups with vested interests in state neurological services. The Board worked with the Academy’s State Affairs Committee to develop The Florida Neuroalliance, which is a collaborative effort by the FSN with representatives of the support societies for patients and families with neurological diseases. This creates a large and powerful voice for the needs of our patients, and gives our state society a special sense of purpose above and beyond our annual meeting.
The FSN Board also changed its practices to allow us to work effectively as a board. The Board divided into five groups to take up key issues:
- Coordinating the Education program at the annual meeting
- Working with the state residency program directors to encourage universal participation by Florida training programs
- Collaborating with the Florida Medical Association and the AAN on items of state and national importance to the practice of neurology
- Aiding in developing the Florida Neuroalliance
- Working with Academy staff to develop an effective website that will eventually list all FSN members, have the Power Point presentations from the annual meeting, list ongoing research projects and fellowship opportunities, and have links to the Academy and the Florida Neuroalliance
Our final strategy is to network effectively with other medical specialty societies. The Board has recommended joint specialty meetings with specialty societies that share common patients, notably Neurosurgery, Psychiatry, and Physiatry. This will allow a larger shared faculty, better networking, better rates for conference facilities, and expanded influence for the Florida Neuroalliance.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this posting are those of the author only and do not represent the views of the American Academy of Neurology or any of its affiliated subsidiaries.
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