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Lessons Learned from Running a Chapter Event

By IHI Open School | Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Early last month, the IHI Open School Chapter at the University of Toronto held its third annual Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Conference (QuIPS). Because this was the third time we’ve held the conference, and we have a bit of experience organizing events now, we thought it was time to share some things we’ve learned with other Chapters. 

Approximately 190 students and professionals attended this year’s conference, which aimed to increase engagement in quality improvement and patient safety by helping students and professionals build skills through interactive workshops. The conference was a two-day event, and consisted of plenary speeches, a panel discussion, and breakout sessions. Additionally, students were able to showcase their work in quality improvement and patient safety through a poster and oral presentation competition, which was judged by University of Toronto professors and industry professionals.

Networking opportunities were especially important for engaging a wide variety of 
health care professionals and students.

What was the most important factor in ensuring the success of our event? Start planning early and articulate roles at the beginning!

Here are six other things we’ve learned over the years that might be helpful to you as you put together a Chapter event: 

1. To help bring down the cost for students, focus heavily on sponsorship. To accomplish this, this year the team re-evaluated the advertising sponsorship packages it offered to local organizations and adjusted their contribution levels and benefits they received. (Planning also becomes easier when you have a budget and confirmed funds, so contacting sponsors as soon as possible is also important.)

2. Book your location early! In order to secure a large venue, we booked eight months in advance, but, even so, parts of the conference had to be held in other buildings. Some of this could have been avoided if we had planned even further ahead. 

3. Ensure there are plenty of opportunities for interaction between the audience and speakers. This year, we also focused on attracting professionals, in addition to students, to create a more diverse networking environment and to allow for the sharing of a wider variety of projects. 

4. To attract non-students, it helps to be on external mailing lists and newsletters, and it’s best to start contacting people six months in advance because each mailing list and newsletter will have different deadlines. We began sending emails a bit late and could have attracted more people to this conference if we had been able to get the word out sooner. In general, having a detailed marketing strategy well in advance will be helpful. 

5. To help with logistics, do as much as possible before the conference. We had a document listing the time of each task and who was responsible for it.

6. It takes a dedicated team to successfully organize a conference. To help the team be more effective, it was especially important to identify tasks and delegate them to ensure a team member was responsible for each task. 

If you’ve run your own Chapter event, what tips would you add to the list? 

Please feel free to contact us at contact@utihiopenschool.ca to learn more about the QuIPS Conference.

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