APMA represents a vast majority of the estimated 18,000 podiatrists in the country. In addition to the national headquarters, APMA boasts 53 component locations throughout the United States and its territories, as well as affiliated societies.
When the COVID-19 crisis hit, APMA was facing two main challenges:
- First, the majority of licensed podiatrists are required to earn 10-30 Continuing Education Contact Hours (CECH) annually to renew their licenses. In the past, these members earned these hours through the APMA annual conference attendance. Since APMA was forced to cancel its live events, these members were running out of time and opportunities to earn the credits that are required to renew their licenses.
- Second, the APMA annual conference features sponsorship opportunities that represent a significant revenue stream for the association. Canceling live events placed these sponsorship funds in jeopardy.
To support its members’ educational needs and help them retain their licenses, APMA contracted with Digitec in mid-June 2020 to create, host, and administer a complete virtual/internet live conference by mid-August 2020.
Often, professional associations turn to a conferencing app for their event management, but use a separate Learning Management System (LMS) to manage registrations, learning content creation, credit tracking, and transcripts.
The COVID-19 crisis prompted innovative leadership. The APMA and Digitec Interactive (DI) teams mobilized to create one centralized mobile responsive app supporting both needs – all in one system.
APMA first met then contracted with DI in mid-June 2020 with the requirement to have the platform up and running by early August. The goal was to provide podiatrists with a virtual/internet live activity to earn the credits they needed to renew their licenses while meeting the Council on Podiatric Medical Education’s requirements as a provider of continuing education in podiatric medicine.
These requirements included a way to verify attendance, a way to track each learner’s time spent participating in the activity, provide opportunities for live debate, evaluate the effectiveness of the program, provide a distinct separation between promotional and continuing education activities, and issue a certificate of attendance upon completion of the program.
With only 2 months to pivot, the APMA and DI team were able to adapt and deploy Digitec Interactive’s learning management platform Knowledge Direct to deliver the virtual conference over two consecutive weekends in August 2020.
Over the course of the next 60 days, the team was able to integrate APMA’s iMIS20/RiSE membership database and GoToWebinar with the Digitec Knowledge Direct platform. APMA was able to create session content in the platform, offering podiatrists a single sign on (SSO) platform, where they could participate in a virtual/internet live activity to earn the CECH they needed without having to travel or leave their home/office.
Through APMA’s leadership during this crisis, the team was able to meet the deadlines and create a virtual conference offering up to 25 CECH for podiatrists over the weekends of August 8-9 and August 15-16.
- Despite having less than two months to promote the Summer Series, the APMA team generated more than 700 registrations. Registered podiatrists received CECH to maintain their licenses to practice podiatric medicine and surgery.
- Evaluation results from the Summer Series were very positive and comparable to APMA’s last live in-person continuing education program at the APMA 2019 Annual Scientific Meeting.
- Many attendees expressed their appreciation to APMA for creating the opportunity for online learning and shared that they look forward to future virtual programs utilizing the new Knowledge Direct platform.