Summary of 2014 Survey of Past Travel Awardees and Associate Members

Daniel J. Mueller (Müller), M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Toronto

(PLEASE NOTE: The below summary is based only on associate member survey results and past travel award recipient survey results from early 2014.)

Sample Demographics
Surveys were sent via email invitation link to Associate members and Past Travel Awardees who attended one of more of the past three meetings. A total of 348 people responded, representing 46% of the targeted Past Travel Awardees (327 out of 713) and 64% of Associate Members (21 out of 33). Of the 1295 non-members invited, 191 (15%) completed the survey. For the entire sample of respondents, 46.8% were female and 16.6% identified themselves as members of an underrepresented minority group. 50% of the sample pool belonged to less than 3 professional organizations, 42% belonged to 4-6 professional organizations, and 7% belonged to greater than 6 organizations. 45% of the sample pool attended 1-2 meetings annually, 39% attended 3, 10% attended 4, and 6% attended 5-6 meetings. The majority of the sample pool was under 45 (67%), had children (72%), and had a partner/spouse who did not work fulltime (72%). Of those with children, 48% bring their child/children to the annual meeting (every time or sometimes).

Logistics for annual meeting
43% rated the location of the meeting as a determinant in their attendance. This was a 3% increase from the 2013 results. Interest in a potential program to match meeting attendees who might share the cost of the hotel room was low in both groups (29% of associate members and 30% of past travel awardees). Of those with children, 4.6% said that subsidized childcare services would impact their decision to bring their child/children.

Associate Members’ Feedback
The 2014 survey response rate for associate members decreased from 68% last year to 64% this year. Respondents included 6 women and 15 men. 62% were PhDs, 19% were MDs, and 19% had both MD+PhD degrees. 77% have a spouse or partner who works full time. 10% had applied for associate membership more than once before it was granted. The majority of associate members (57%) indicated that the price of annual ACNP dues do not influence their desire to maintain or acquire full membership.

With regard to perceptions about the college, 55% rated ACNP as “high” or “very high” on being “welcoming” to potential new members, 75% indicated they found ACNP staff “high” or “very high” on a scale rating “ease of contacting” when they had questions about the organization, and 66% endorsed a “high” or “very high” rating on “feeling comfortable asking more senior members about membership and participation”. Many felt neutral or indifferent about these items, and relatively few endorsed negative views, i.e., only 10% felt the college was not welcoming, 10% found it not easy to contact ACNP with questions, and 15% did not feel comfortable reaching out to more senior members with queries about the college. 71% say they visited the ACNP website to address questions (29% was indifferent). When asked if their academic institution placed high value on ACNP membership status when evaluating faculty, 52% responded affirmatively.

When asked to identify things that would make ACNP membership more appealing or valuable, over half (52%) of this group endorsed “not making attendance mandatory”, with a close second being “decreased dues and meeting registration cost”, endorsed by 47% of associate members.

The majority of associate members (67%) were aware of the work of the Membership Advisory Task Force. With regard to a projecting their trajectories toward full membership, 95% intend to apply for ACNP full membership in the future. While only 26% indicated they anticipated achieving full membership with the first application attempt, the majority (79%) of associate members indicated they do anticipate they will eventually be successful in becoming regular members (21% remained unsure). When asked why they have not yet applied for Full Membership, nearly all respondents indicated they felt they were not confident that they will be accepted. When asked what interests/needs/desires they have within the context of ACNP, the most-often endorsed item was “access to latest/most exciting research methods or findings)” (81% of the group), followed by “access with senior/accomplished researchers for 1 on 1 interaction” and “networking for potential scientific collaboration”(71% of the group for both responses). They also indicated a desire for “networking for career/professional development” (62% of the group) Current membership dues were perceived to be reasonable by 77% of the associate membership.

Past Travel Awardees’ Feedback
Data from 327 past travel awardees is summarized here. These include 55% PhDs, 22% MDs, and 23% with combined MD+PhD degrees. Data characterizing their sense of feeling welcomed was approximately 10% higher than the Associate Member respondents. Data for their feelings on easily able to contact ACNP or senior members with questions was very similar to that of the Associate Member respondents. 58% of Past Travel Awardees knew that about the Membership Advisory Task force.

40% of individuals from this group had applied for membership in the past. When asked about reasons they had not yet applied, 60% reported that they were not confidents they would be accepted, 30% also indicated they could not commit to attending meetings every year, and 29% indicated they were unsure of the requirements. There were 18% who indicated they do not ever intend to apply in the future. The survey showed that 53% of the group believed they will eventually achieve full membership status even if it requires several rounds (37% remained unsure). High value placed on ACNP membership for faculty evaluation and promotion within their academic institution was endorsed by 54% of past travel awardees.

Networking for potential scientific collaboration and mentorship were the most popularly endorsed areas of interest/need by the past travel awardees (67% of the group). While 34% of this group also endorsed a desire for a more transparent process for successful membership application, the most popular item for increasing the value of the college to past travel awardees was “decreased dues and meeting registration cost” (reported by 39% of the group) as well as “not making attendance mandatory” (reported by 37% of the group). A slight majority of past travel awardees (55%) indicated that the cost of the hotel did not affect their decision to attend the meeting, and 59% also indicated the cost of registration did not influence their attendance.

Overall most respondents were positive about the value of ACNP membership, with high costs and an unpredictable standard for achieving membership identified as notable negatives. Meeting attendees, consistently identify the opportunities for networking and exposure to the latest, exciting research as attractions of the college. Almost all of the associate members (95%) intend to seek full membership. The need for reduced costs (meetings and dues) and removal of mandatory meeting attendance were identified by a majority of associate members and past travel awardees as things that would make membership more appealing.