As a first-time attendee, you might be overwhelmed by the scope of the ASH annual meeting. With more than 20,000 attendees and hundreds of sessions, posters, and exhibits – not to mention dozens of special receptions and events – planning your schedule can be a challenge. This guide is meant to give you an overview of what the meeting has to offer and direct you to resources that will help you navigate the meeting and get the most out of your experience.
Basic Structure of the Meeting
The meeting sessions fall into two basic categories: the invited program and abstract-driven sessions. The invited program sessions are planned by the ASH Program Committee early in the year and feature the top experts in the field of hematology. They include the Education and Scientific Sessions, special lectures and symposia, Education Spotlight Sessions, Continuing Conversations (formerly Scientific Forums), How I Treat, Meet the Scientist, and trainee sessions. The Education and Scientific Sessions are the cornerstone of the invited program; each session is typically offered twice to give attendees the maximum scheduling flexibility.
The abstract-driven sessions include the Plenary Scientific Session (oral presentations of the top-rated abstracts), oral sessions (talks timed to occur simultaneously at 15-minute intervals to allow attendees to move back and forth between sessions to hear specific presentations of interest), and posters (visual presentations of abstracts that can be viewed throughout the day; presenters are available for informal Q&A during specific times). These presentations are selected by the Program Committee, through an extensive peer-review process, from among thousands of abstracts submitted each year. Poster sessions are offered Saturday through Monday, while the oral abstract presentations kick off with the Plenary Scientific Session on Sunday and continue throughout the latter half of the meeting.
The general sessions, which include named lectures, special-interest sessions, and award presentations, are spread throughout the four days of the meeting.
Planning Your Schedule
ASH offers a number of resources to help you plan your schedule.
- The Personal Scheduler allows you to search by key word, presenter, etc. to find the sessions you want to attend and build a personalized itinerary. This can be accessed prior to or during the meeting.
- For mobile phone and tablet computer users, ASH offers an annual meeting mobile app that allows you to search for sessions, access the abstracts, and create your personal meeting schedule from your mobile device.
- Abstracts on flash drive, which contains the full text of all the presented abstracts as well as the full annual meeting program (accurate as of the mid-October print date), allows users to search for presentations of interest.
- The Program Book provided on site contains a detailed schedule as well as session descriptions.
One thing to keep in mind when planning which sessions to attend is that some sessions are repeated (Education and Scientific Sessions) while a number of sessions are recorded and available via webcast or on DVD (available for purchase in the ASH Store after the meeting). Please note that neither the invited Scientific Sessions nor the abstract-driven sessions are recorded in any way.
Best of ASH
The Best of ASH session, held on Tuesday afternoon, is designed to review the key themes and biggest breakthroughs from the meeting’s more than 3,000 abstract presentations. For anyone planning to report back to colleagues at home about the highlights of the meeting, this session should not be missed.
Four types of sessions at the annual meeting are available by ticket only: the Continuing Conversations (formerly Scientific Forums), How I Treat, Meet the Scientist, and Education Spotlight Sessions. These sessions are limited in attendance to allow for greater interaction between the audience and speakers. You can purchase tickets for these sessions online during the registration process or on site at the registration area in the Great Hall of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Please note that these sessions often sell out, so purchasing tickets in advance is recommended.
Friday Satellite Symposia
The official ASH annual meeting runs from Saturday through Tuesday. On the Friday prior to the meeting, various corporate and nonprofit organizations offer “Friday Satellite Symposia” that are free to registered ASH meeting attendees. These clinically oriented meetings offer CME credit but are not part of the official ASH annual meeting; they are organized and managed solely by the sponsoring organization/company.
Food and Receptions
Your registration includes admission to the following events that provide food and/or beverages. Check the meeting schedule for exact times and locations:
- Friday Satellite Symposia (non-ASH events on Friday only)
- Trainee Simultaneous Didactic Sessions (Sunday and Monday, open to trainees only)
- Trainee Career-Development Lunch Sessions (Saturday, open to trainees only)
- Coffee breaks (Daily)
- Welcome Reception (Saturday, Poster Hall)
- Promoting Minorities in Hematology Presentations and Reception (Saturday)
- Grassroots Network Lunch (Saturday)
- Poster Hall Receptions (Sunday and Monday)
- Exhibit Hall (lunch on Sunday and Monday)
In addition, there is open time for lunch built into the schedule each day; a variety of food vendors can be found throughout the convention center. For options outside the convention center, check ASH News Daily (the on-site daily newspaper of the annual meeting) for information about nearby restaurants.
There is no official dress code for the meeting, although the attire of the typical meeting attendee is probably best described as “business casual.” Because the days are long and there is a lot of walking involved, comfort should be your priority; make sure to bring comfortable shoes! December temperatures in New Orleans typically range from 45° - 64° F (7° - 18° C), so be sure to pack a jacket or lightweight coat.
Children under the age of 12 are not permitted in the sessions or the exhibit hall. Child-care services are available through KiddieCorp (see Attendee Services for more information).
Free shuttle-bus service is available to and from the convention center from most of the hotels in the ASH room block. See the Hotel & Travel page for a schedule and list of hotels that are included. More detailed information about the shuttles can be found on site at ASH Central.
To help you navigate the meeting on foot, ASH provides maps of the convention center and exhibit hall. You can find maps on the annual meeting mobile app that can be downloaded to your smartphone or tablet computer. For those who prefer a larger-print map, check out ASH News Daily.
In addition to paying a reduced registration rate and receiving discounts on educational materials, trainees receive many special benefits at the meeting, which can be accessed by showing your blue trainee badge. There is a room in the convention center designated as the “Trainee Lounge” where trainees can relax, meet with colleagues, access the Internet, and recharge with complimentary refreshments. In addition, a number of tickets to How I Treat/Meet the Scientist and Education Spotlight Sessions are set aside especially for trainees. See Trainee Activities and Services for more details.
Continuing Medical Education (CME)
The American Society of Hematology is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education (CME) for physicians. This program has been approved for a maximum of 37.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™. Physicians not licensed in the United States who participate in this CME activity are also eligible for AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.
CME certificates are available for $25. Attendees planning to claim CME credit for the meeting must indicate this by checking the appropriate box during online registration or on the meeting registration form. Attendees may complete the process to claim CME credits and print CME certificates on site at the email stations available at the convention center by selecting "CME program," or through the ASH website after the meeting by clicking the CME link on the homepage. The online process for claiming CME credits and printing a CME certificate for the 55th ASH Annual Meeting must be completed no later than April 11, 2014. See CME Credits for more information.
Physicians who do not require AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ and other health-care professionals attending the meeting can request a Certificate of Attendance on site at the ASH CME desk. There is no charge to meeting registrants for this service. ASH is applying for CME accreditation with the European Hematology Association (EHA). For information about claiming EHA CME, please stop by the ASH CME desk or email firstname.lastname@example.org
ASH offers a number of ways for you to stay connected with other attendees while at the meeting. The Message Center stations located at ASH Central provide a place for you to check email. In addition, free WiFi will be offered throughout the convention center. Users of the annual meeting mobile app can send messages through the app to other attendees (provided they have opted in). You can also follow ASH on Twitter (www.twitter.com/@ash_hematology) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/americansocietyofhematology) to get the latest news and announcements. Use hashtag #ASH13 in your Twitter updates to join the conversation about the meeting.
In addition to electronic communications, there are plenty of opportunities for in-person networking. ASH Central provides comfortable seating areas for informal meetings and conversation, while trainees are invited to visit the Trainee Lounge to relax and connect with their peers. Please also see the listing of receptions for other opportunities to interact with colleagues.
Getting Involved in ASH
There is no better time to learn about ASH than at the annual meeting. Stop by ASH Central to apply for membership or make sure your membership is up to date. ASH staff members are also available at the ASH booth in the exhibit hall (#2105) to answer all your questions about the Society. Be sure to attend the Grassroots Network Lunch on Saturday to learn more about ASH’s advocacy agenda and how you can make your voice heard.
We hope this information is useful, but is there anything we haven’t covered here? Please contact ASH’s Customer Service with any questions you may have and include the words “First-Time Attendee” in the subject line. We will continue to update this page to address frequently asked questions.
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