Growing the YPS
What is the ACR doing to support members entering practice for the first time?
The ACR Young and Early Career Physician Section (YPS) represents a strong segment of the College at around 7,983 members.
These members are defined by one of two criteria: in practice and under 40 years of age or within eight years of completion of training. This group of members is extremely valuable to the ACR, not only because they represent approximately 25 percent of dues-paying members, but also for the simple fact that they are poised to lead the organization and foster the continued success and growth of the ACR.
Recognizing the value of this group of members, ACR leadership has placed an emphasis on understanding their motivations for becoming and remaining members. The College is working to increase the level of YPS engagement both at the chapter and national level and develop resources and programming to address the unique needs of this segment of the membership.
From a membership perspective, while the College realizes an overall retention rate of 90 percent, within the YPS retention rates vary from 60 to 70 percent. Understanding the reasons for the significant variance and increasing the retention rate is a priority for the College. To that end, the Commission on Membership and Communications has formed a work group composed of a panel of YPS members who analyze the current retention and engagement rates and develop solutions to better connect with their colleagues and increase membership. Later in 2017, a short survey will go out to individuals who qualify to join the YPS but are not currently members. The survey aims to gain insights into why membership was not retained and what services the ACR could offer young professionals to encourage membership. Results from the survey will be used to provide guidance to both the commission and the YPS as they seek to increase the value of membership and rates of retention.
The College's focus on this important demographic of members, while recently renewed, is not new. The YPS was formally established by ACR Council resolution in 2012 to provide structure for the section, ensure younger members were represented on the Council, and facilitate greater young and early career member involvement in the College. Led by a seven-member executive committee, the section is tasked with working in coordination with the Commission on Membership and Communications to increase membership and volunteerism within the ACR by young and early career professionals.
Since its formation, the YPS has been responsible for coordinating a section meeting and caucus during the annual meeting. Since 2015, YPS has worked with the ACR Program Committee to develop dedicated programming for young members as part of the new all-member annual meeting. The College has also added a YPS social to the annual meeting to provide an opportunity for members to network with leadership and colleagues and discuss issues unique to the section.
In order to share information with members, the YPS has developed a quarterly electronic newsletter and a resource page on the ACR website (acr.org/yps). Both tools focus on topics that are germane to YPS members, including personal finance, contract negotiations, and malpractice. As part of the ACR's new online community, Engage, the YPS also has a dedicated community to allow members to connect with one another to discuss issues of concern and share resources.
With respect to volunteerism, the section has taken an interest in working with leadership to ensure that young professionals are represented on the College's commissions and committees. At the chapter level, the ACR is encouraging leaders to use the additional alternate councilor position they have been allotted to engage even more young members. A new activity is also being piloted at the chapter level to develop an event for young members that includes educational lectures as well as lectures focused on economics, health policy, and government relations. This effort is being sponsored by three chapters as a grassroots effort to connect with members post-training and show the value of continued membership.
An increased focus on this membership demographic is already starting to yield results. The number of YPS members holding positions at the chapter and national level as increased by more than 15 percent each year since 2012, demonstrating an increased level of activity and inclusion. Attendance at the annual meeting increased by 3 percent from 2015 to 2016, and a new speed-mentoring session has been added to the 2017 meeting program specifically for the growing young member audience. And while an overall goal to increase retention rates within this demographic has not yet been realized, we can report that rates have remained stable over the past four years.
By Jennifer E. Nathan, MD, appointed YPS member to the BOC and past YPS Chair