Symposium Program Committee Job Description

The Symposium Program committee is charged with assessing member educational needs; developing a Symposium educational event to address those needs; assessing the extent to which those needs are met; and, otherwise contributing to the educational mission of the Academy.

The Committee shall consist of at least 5 Academy members appointed by the President. One shall serve as Chairman for a period not to exceed two years. One or more members shall serve as Vice-Chairmen, each with specific programmatic responsibilities. Members shall be appointed for initial terms of 2 years. No member shall serve more than 3, two-year terms.

The Chairman shall have overall responsibility for and shall direct the activities of the Committee, reporting directly to the President. The Chairman shall convene and preside at all meetings of the Committee. The Chairman shall submit written status reports for all meetings of the Board of Directors and at such other times as the President may direct. The Chairman shall be responsible for submitting appropriate documentation to the Budget committee to secure annual funding and is responsible for assuring operations are consistent with the approved budget.

Vice Chairmen
There shall be not less than one Vice Chairman appointed by the President who shall perform such specific duties, as the Chairman shall direct. The term of office of Vice Chairmen is one year, though there is no limit on the number of terms one may serve in that position. It is the intent that the position of Vice Chairman shall be utilized to "train" or "prepare" individuals in that position for possible future service as Chairman. In the recent past the Vice Chairman has been given the specific responsibility of organizing the Pre Symposium Workshops and the Poster Presentation Session. In addition, the Vice Chairman assists the Chairman in such other areas as may be requested.

Scope of Work
The Symposium is the single most important educational event of the Academy. It also represents the greatest single source of income and expense of the Academy and involves the greatest investment of staff time during the year. As result, the work of the Committee is considered vital to the overall financial health of the Academy in any given year. The Board of Directors and Leadership take a keen interest in the Committee's activities and in the results of its efforts as reflected in the Annual Symposium program produced each year.

For any given Symposium, the Committee's work program might be summarized as follows:


  • One to three
    Formally assess data regarding member educational needs; solicit input from leaders, former faculty and others and review member data regarding desired subject areas and potential speakers; consider programmatic format changes or revisions based on past experience and prepare a summary report offering conclusions from this review leading to an approach for the next symposium.
  • Three to four
    Based on the analysis above, prepare a discussion document consisting of possible speakers, topics to be covered; widely distribute the draft for comments, reactions and suggestions; revise and redistribute as necessary until a final document is achieved that satisfies the Committee and Board of Directors as a final working program outline and faculty.
  • Four to five
    Make preliminary contact with proposed faculty to confirm availability and interest, concurrence with topics and session formats proposed and conduct initial negotiations regarding compensation and expenses. To the extent possible select the final faculty and the topics and sessions each member will present---for those not resolvable, secure suitable and acceptable replacements.
  • Five to six
    Provide staff with contact information on each faculty member, a summary of the negotiated terms of the engagement and the sessions and topics to be covered. Monitor staff sending each faculty member a "contract letter" restating the terms and securing such additional information as necessary to permit the development of the promotional brochure. Consider promotional efforts to promote the meeting including possible outside mailing lists, advertisements, and propose such changes as appropriate.
  • Six to eight
    Be available to staff to assist in resolving any problems that arise in securing the necessary materials from faculty; initiate the Call for Abstracts and posters; select personnel to serve on a committee to evaluate and select abstracts for poster presentation.
  • Eight to eleven
    Monitor faculty needs; assure that faculty submit appropriate materials for the syllabus; assure that all CME required documentation is in place for each faculty member and for any commercial sponsors; complete the review, evaluation and selection of abstracts for poster presentation; monitor staff notification of those selected for poster presentation; initiate the process of identifying possible topics and faculty for the next Symposium.
  • Twelve
    Work with the President to organize faculty dinners for the key "major" or international faculty and Academy leaders; assign members of the Committee to monitor each session at the Symposium to introduce faculty, moderate Q & A, assure proper operation of audio visual equipment, lighting, heating and air conditioning and generally to be available to assure successful sessions; monitor compliance with all CME requirements regarding disclosure of potential conflicts, etc.; entertain as necessary the visiting faculty; conduct the judging of the posters for purposes of selecting the winners of the Poster competition; provide a presence and encouragement to the sponsors and to the exhibitors throughout; and to take such other initiatives as necessary to assure a quality learning experience and a successful meeting.

Guidelines and Policies
Over the thirteen years that the Academy has offered the Symposium a number of policies, guidelines and routine practices have emerged. Some are informal practices; others are Board adopted policies. The following is an effort to summarize the key ones.

Setting a Theme
Setting a theme for each meeting helps to focus the Program Committee's efforts to select faculty and the specific topics each will address. Identifying a theme should emerge from the effort to assess member educational needs. A broad working theme may serve at the outset, followed by a refined version after the program is complete. The Committee should have a theme in mind from the outset of contacting any speaker or prospective faculty member---this is not just "the Symposium"--this is the symposium at which we intend to focus on "_______________."

Faculty Guidelines
There are certain policies and guidelines regarding faculty which should be observed:

  • This is the Annual Scientific meeting of the Academy and, as such, the Board policy is that only physicians may address clinical topics. PhD's may address the group but only on topics related to their own research.
  • Generally, the same individuals are not to be utilized on the program in successive years.
  • There is to be no commercial company involvement in the identification, selection or sponsorship of individual speakers or individual sessions.
  • Individual members of the Academy Board are not to be utilized as speakers for more than a total of four hours of teaching time at any given Symposium.
  • All symposium speakers, including member speakers, will be provided complimentary Symposium registration.
  • The Board of Directors has adopted specific policies and guidelines dealing with speaker honoraria and travel expenses, which are to be observed. To assure equity in the treatment of members, the policies applicable to member speakers are fixed. With respect to non-member speakers, the Chairman is provided a range within which to negotiate without having to secure further explicit approval. Contact staff to obtain the current policies regarding member and non-member speaker travel and fees.
  • No one should be invited to speak unless there is acceptable evidence that the individual is a capable speaker with experience addressing physicians.
  • At each Symposium there are one or more sessions that focus in depth on one or more micro-system approaches, such as KHT, YNSA, Auricular, etc. Care should be taken to avoid covering the same micro-system extensively in successive Symposia.
Major Faculty Selection
  • It is the Committee's job to identify the best available faculty for the topics to be covered and to recommend a program of sessions to the Board of Directors for final approval. It is generally more efficient to involve key members of the Board along with the committee members in the review and consideration of various faculty possibilities to take advantage of their experience and insights and to build support within both bodies with people who have participated in the selection.
  • Generally, there should be at least two major international speakers, each of whom can be utilized for Pre Symposium workshops as well as for sessions within the Symposium.
  • As a practical matter, the costs of transportation and other expenses has an impact on the determination of how large a speaking role an international faculty member may be given---the more it costs to get him or her here, the more you want to get your money's worth.
  • Typically there are four Pre-Symposium workshops, three each use one major faculty member presenting in workshop format his or her topic--two of these normally utilize the two international faculty members. The third session typically involves a high caliber domestic speaker on a topic area that offers a balance, with a different scope of subject matter than that offered by the two international guests. The three topics offered should not compete with each other by offering overlapping material or similar treatment paradigms.
  • There is an extra fee to attend the Pre-Symposium workshops so care should be used to get quality faculty on topics that will attract and then satisfy participants. Since only half of all delegates participate in the pre-symposium workshops, these faculty members can and should be used for related but different topic presentations at the Symposium Plenary sessions and in the afternoon workshop sessions, provided the same material is not offered.
  • The fourth Pre Symposium workshop has historically been an Introduction to Medical Acupuncture taught by Dr. Helms in the morning and someone else in the afternoon for a clinical session. There has been discussion that this year a different approach should be taken that would involve faculty from more than one of the ABMA approved teaching programs. The Committee should submit a proposed format for that session for Board discussion so that a consensus can be reached on what this important session will look like and how the various programs can most effectively be integrated into one session without losing the benefits of offering a basic introductory program.
Other Faculty
  • There are a relatively fixed maximum number of speaking slots available in the current Friday to Sunday symposium format. There are three and one-half hours of plenary session time on both Friday and Sunday, and two hours on Saturday morning (the day of the membership meeting). There are four hours available each afternoon for up to four concurrent sessions of two hours each--for a total of 22 to 24 2-hour increments over the three days.
  • For any given Symposium, the first step is to fill in the major faculty members (the international faculty or "name" speakers) into the symposium slots where they are going to be utilized--that will determine what time slots remains to be filled with other personnel.
  • While the Plenary sessions are necessarily didactic in style, the Committee has more flexibility to utilize other techniques in the afternoon workshops---case presentations, patient demonstrations, panel discussions, etc. The fact that the afternoon sessions are in two-hour increments should not limit the choice to a workshop approach. Innovative approaches to providing quality information should be considered to help find the most effective means to providing the information.
  • At any given Symposium, every effort should be made to secure speakers on new or innovative topics not previously presented at the Symposium. To avoid the same old people always speaking, some new speakers should be utilized at each Symposium---someone who has not previously spoken at one, but only if there is evidence that he or she is a competent speaker.
  • For the afternoon concurrent sessions, there should be a balance of topics at any given time that assures at least one session will likely appeal to every delegate--there should always be one that would be suitable to physicians relatively new to the field and there should always be one that focuses on a topic of interest to the mainstream of members.
  • There is an expanding pool of possible speakers. The Academy today, at 2,000 members, includes among its members many experienced teachers, researchers and top quality clinicians. The American Board of Medical Acupuncture has reviewed and approved five physician acupuncture educational programs, each of which offers a source of possible speakers. With the expansion of the NIH Center for Alternative Medicine, there are an increasing number of acupuncture research projects underway, a growing volume of papers and articles being published today that are also sources of topics and speakers.

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