A Real-World Example of a Hybrid Board Retreat
What worked and what didn’t
Like many other organizational groups, the board of directors of the American Academy of Neurology moved all its in-person meetings online between March 2020 and April 2021. The resilience of AAN’s board—already plagued by one of the highest burnout rates of all medical specialties—was sorely tested by a confluence of events, including social unrest, the cancellation of AAN’s scientific annual meeting, loss of organizational revenue and exceptional strain on members.
By 2021, the physicians on the board—which prior to the public health crisis had held quarterly face-to-face meetings—were experiencing isolation and risked an erosion of camaraderie. It was time for a reset.
In February 2021, almost the entire board, who are all considered essential workers, had received their COVID-19 vaccines. AAN thought this was an opportunity to bring the board together using a hybrid model, so two large villas in Orlando, Florida were reserved, which could house 24 people in private, en suite rooms and minimize exposure to the virus. The retreat, which took place from April 29 to May 2, included 20 board members and AAN’s CEO in Orlando, while seven board members and 10 AAN staffers joined virtually.
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