How congress revenue funds ESR member services

2014 07 21 12 13 36 412 2014 07 23 Esr Flags

As names go, ours is rather self-explanatory; the words European Society of Radiology (ESR) sum up quite clearly, exactly what our organization is all about. But one of those words is more significant than the others: society. Although we are European at heart, our membership and activities reach increasingly further around the globe, and although radiology is still our key focus, we welcome members from, and provide educational opportunities for, people from a variety of related disciplines and professions.

The society part of our name is the one thing that doesn't change, because the ethos of supporting fellow professionals and providing help to those who need it underpins everything we do.

When the ESR was first established almost 10 years ago, the founding members made a firm decision to adopt a different membership model to its forerunners. The main principle was to make membership either free (as is the case for corresponding members) or extremely cheap (the fee for full members and trainees is 10 euros), to provide complimentary services to members all year round, and to finance this through the annual European Congress of Radiology (ECR).

The ESR uses funds from the ECR to provide complimentary services to its 60,000-plus members.The ESR uses funds from the ECR to provide complimentary services to its 60,000-plus members.

There has never been any shortage of different opinions about this strategy. Complaints about the price of ECR tickets are not hard to come by, and we are often compared unfavorably with other societies who set their membership fees much higher and include the price of congress attendance.

What is so often overlooked is that our model gives ESR members access to a vast range of services for what is essentially a nominal fee, without charging large amounts in advance for a congress that they may or may not have the time, resources, or inclination to attend. Quite simply, we have set out to make our membership and services accessible and affordable to the majority.

Of course, this means that anyone paying to attend the congress is subsidizing those other services. Courses, workshops, scholarships, and fellowships offered by the European School of Radiology (ESOR); the running of the European Diploma in Radiology; the many e-learning tools we offer: all of these are aimed primarily at people just beginning their careers, and all of them are made affordable thanks to the income that our congress generates.

In the case of ESOR, we have made great efforts to reach as much of the world as possible, with a special emphasis on developing regions. Within Europe our focus has been on the East, and we have also sought to provide more and more courses, workshops, and exchange opportunities to people outside of Europe, particularly in China and South America. Thousands of young ESR members have benefitted from these activities, which are made possible as a direct result of the success of our annual meeting.

For a great many people, the cost of attending a first-class congress is easy to cover, regardless of whether it is part of a membership package or a separate fee. In any model, the price of a ticket would go toward providing other services, but in our case it is only those who can afford it who pay, not the whole mass of individual members. It is exactly this strategy that has turned the ESR into the largest radiological society in the world, with more than 60,000 members as of June 2014.

Importantly, among the many other things financed by the congress are reductions for particular categories of ECR attendees. The long-running "Invest in the Youth" scheme has enabled thousands of young radiologists and trainees to attend the ECR, often for the first time, by waiving their registration fees and paying for their accommodation expenses outright. Speakers, moderators, paper presenters, students, residents, nurses, radiographers, and many others have also benefitted from reduced or waived fees over the years.

However it has been perceived, the aim of the ESR's approach to congress and membership fees has always been to encourage the radiological community to support itself. We have been lucky enough to benefit from a great deal of input from an enthusiastic group of industry partners, but we know that ultimately we have to be able to stand on our own. Our society can unquestionably take care of its less fortunate members through the combined goodwill of our wealthier, or at least more financially comfortable, members. In other words, what should be true of society in general, should also be true for us.

As clichéd as it may sound, together we really are stronger, but only if we are all pulling in the same direction.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular vendor, analyst, industry consultant, or consulting group.

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