The 4,000-member society has a points system that allows members to earn more benefits the more they participate in ASLMS-sponsored meetings, courses and committees, as well as contribute to its journal. The ASLMS says the 14-year-old program has helped increase member engagement. It also allows the society to track and record member engagement, said Michelle Theiler, the ASLMS CME (continuing medical education) and conference coordinator.
“It’s a very positive thing,” she said.
The point system came about because physicians who weren’t board-certified in laser surgery were not allowed to participate in leadership, and they wanted to be more involved, Theiler said.
The Society’s board responded with what it calls its activity points system. ASLMS members join as associates, and earn points to become fellows, which unlocks the full benefits of membership, including the opportunity to participate in leadership roles. Two points are earned for attending the annual conference. One point is earned for going to an ASLMS-sponsored course. One-half point is earned for participating on an ASLMS committee or by contributing to its journal, Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Points can be earned by any member, whether they are physicians, scientists, nurses, allied health personnel or industry representatives.
If after two years a member earns two points, then that person is promoted to fellow status – with no increase in dues payments. Then, that member has three years to earn another two points to maintain that status. Fellows who earn two points in four consecutive three-year cycles keep that status as long as they stay members, with no more requirements to earn points. That doesn’t stop fellows from continuing to earn them, though, Theiler said. “We have a lot of members who have hundreds of points,” she said. “It’s very prestigious.”
Theiler has some advice for another association that would like to start its own version of a points system. First, she said, it might not be necessary to require that points be scored over such a long period of time – 12 years – without interruption. A system could be developed in which there is a long-term reward, yet would allow members who miss scoring points for whatever reason to pick up where they left off instead of having to start back at zero.
Second, she said, it’s critical that a society have an association management system that can track points, and easily organize and print reports on them. Theiler said right now the ASLMS has to enter, track and find all that information manually, which can take up a lot of time for its eight-member staff. Members “seem to enjoy” the points system, Theiler said, but for staff it can be a tedious project.
“If you have an AMS that can handle [a points system] that’s great,” Theiler said. “When it’s manual [entry], it becomes very difficult.” ASLMS is working with .orgSource on developing a new website and selection of an AMS, and part of its request for proposal is a tracking system for points.
Still, overall the points system has stood the test of time for the ASLMS. Instead of having to guess how much members are involved, “we can directly measure” that, Theiler said.