The past 21 months have been filled with many decisions in response to the Sars-CoV2 virus. Some decisions have been large, others have been small, but all of them have weighed on us. Decisions such as whether to wear a mask, what type of mask to wear, whether to supply our own mask or depend on our employers to provide one for us. These multifaceted decisions also invaded our personal lives. Decisions as whether to go for a walk or to the grocery store, to get the vaccine or ensure that parents/loved ones, and now children, receive one. Our decisions continue, deciding whether it is safe for children to go to school, to eat at a restaurant, or attend a face-to-face activity.
More recently, as the Council began planning for the 2022 fiscal year, we had to make a substantial decision—whether to hold SGIM 22 in-person or virtually. Eric Bass, Kay Ovington, and I presented various options for the Council to consider as they deliberated on this decision. As we went through this process, it reminded me of the book The Art of Decision Making: How We Move from Indecision to Smart Choices in which author Joseph Bikart proposed six phases of decision making: Creativity, Options, Selection, Action, Resolve, and Completion.1
The Council and the Annual Program Committee, chaired by Matt Tuck and co-chaired by Nicole Redmon, developed a range of Creative objectives for our annual meeting. The Finance Committee, our Treasurer Hollis Day, and SGIM staff contemplated several Options as well as the possible outcomes of having an in-person meeting or whether to convert to a virtual or hybrid-meeting model (e.g., both in-person and synchronous virtual components). We worked to re-frame all possible outcomes for each option to ensure both risks and benefits were fully articulated to actualize all problems as they truly were and not idealize any option.
In the Selection phase of decision-making, Bikart recommends using a familiar pros and cons approach.2 As the Council weighed the pros and cons of an in-person SGIM 22 meeting, we learned as much as possible about the status of the virus and public health measures in Orlando, Florida. We explored the hotel’s policies regarding vaccination, masking, and food consumption. These virus mitigation measures were kept front and center off all discussions to ensure safety. The Council also thoughtfully considered the advantages of an in-person meeting, its potential for networking, career development and community building, while also weighing the need to ensure participant safety. In weighing the pros and cons, the Council considered the fiscal demands of all three options. The hybrid meeting option extended beyond our fiscal abilities and the completely virtual option would also result in a financial loss. We would be unable to fulfill our hotel contracts that do not allow for COVID-related adjustments at this time.
As the Council moved to the fourth stage of decision-making—Action—we recognized our potential to create a fully vaccinated community and voted to require all SGIM 22 participants to be vaccinated prior to arrival. After this vote happened, we voted for an in-person format for SGIM 22 in April 2022. This decision was made considering the possibility of changes in virus epidemiology and the uncertainty of business travel or the ability to garner travel funds from employers.
As we navigated the complexity of our situation, we worked to maximize the value of our membership and meeting content.3 Thus, we decided to move towards an in-person meeting in April 2022. We will also work to curate asynchronous annual meeting content to place into our learning management system to be used after the event. This decision was made with the best information available at the time. Our decision for an in-person meeting was to maximize the value of participation. This stems from our belief that “Our programs, events, and networking opportunities accelerate professional advancement.”4 It is with the Resolve (decision-making stage five) that the Council also agreed to hold its Council retreat this month in-person at the meeting location. While in Orlando, the Council will further assess the safety precautions put into place by both the host hotel and Disney. Given the virus’ uncertain trajectory, the Council with continue to monitor its decision and will act as needed to ensure the safety of our membership. We will spend the next 4 months working towards the final stage of Completion, carefully tracking any changes to our environment that would cause us to alter course. The decision-making process regarding SGIM 22 will not conclude until mid-April 2022.
I am grateful to: Vineet Chopra, Gail Daumit, Hollis Day, Cristina M. Gonzalez, LeRoi S. Hicks, Jean Kutner, Rita S. Lee, Margaret Lo, Patrick G. O’Connor, Michael P. Pignone, and Eleanor (Bimla) Schwarz as well as Eric B. Bass, Carol Bates, Janet Chu, Francine Jetton, Tiffany I. Leung, Kay Ovington, Julie Oyler, and Anuradha Paranjape. All those listed were open and thoughtful about this very difficult decision.
I hope to see everyone in Orlando, fully vaccinated and masked.
- Bikart J. Hidden Chambers. In: The Art of Decision Making: How We Move from Indecision to Smart Choices. London, UK: Watkins Publishing; 2019: Chapter 6.
- Bothwick F, Bikart J. Inclusive leadership and the art of decision making. Benchmark for Business. http://www.benchmarkforbusiness.com/files/files/brochure/19th_June_2019_report_-_v1.pdf. Accessed November 15, 2021.
- Rothman J. The art of decision making. New Yorker. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2019/01/21/the-art-of-decision-making. Published January 21, 2019. Accessed November 15, 2021.
- SGIM Membership. https://www.sgim.org/membership. Accessed November 15, 2021.
COVID-19, Health Policy & Advocacy, Leadership, Administration, & Career Planning, Medical Education, SGIM, Wellness
The past 21 months have been filled with many decisions in response to the virus—some large, others small—such as whether to wear a mask, what type to wear, whether to supply our own or depend on our employers to provide one for us. Our decisions continue—whether it is safe for children to go to school, eat at a restaurant, or attend a face-to-face activity. More recently, as the Council began planning for the 2022 fiscal year, we had to make a substantial decision—whether to hold SGIM 22 in-person or virtually.
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