G-I-N North America: The Making of a Regional Community
Having attended many Cochrane Colloquia, I was always impressed by the US Contributors Meeting organized by Kay Dickersin, Director of the US Cochrane Center. Although not a formal Cochrane group, the US Contributors Meeting had good turnout with impressive collegiality, congeniality, and networking. Clearly some additional energy, and opportunity, arose from the shared thoughts and ideas of this geographic subgroup within the global Cochrane framework.
After participating in several G-I-N Conferences, some parallels with Cochrane became obvious, including the potential synergy that could arise from a regional working group. My enthusiasm was somewhat blunted, however, upon hearing concerns that a regional group might fragment the organization, detract from the annual conference, and lead to loss of membership. I had not considered these at first, but upon reflection they were (and remain) valid. The immediate challenge was to move forward while addressing concerns and using the regional network to strengthen the parent organization.
Here is a brief overview of steps we followed to make G-I-N North America a successful regional network that synergizes with
the mission of G-I-N. They are presented as strategies and suggestions that might apply to any new regional initiative.
- Engage the Board of Trustees. Speak with the board about your idea, hear their suggestions and concerns, and take them seriously. G-I-N is only 10 years old, but there is much accumulated wisdom ready to be shared.
- Define your region broadly, but not too broadly. G-I-N North America began with only the US, but adding Canada and Mexico (e.g., North America) made sense and created new opportunity. We could have also added Central and South America to become “G-I-N America,” but it would be too diverse and geographically expansive to function as a community.
- Choose an energetic and representative steering group. About 10 or 12 will suffice, but they must represent your region (by geography, discipline, and expertise) and include at least one G-I-N Trustee. Involving Cochrane and related groups is highly desirable.
- Do something useful. We decided early on to create a monthly podcast program, launched in January 2012, and very graciously hosted on a Kaiser Permanente WebEx platform. Content was based on steering group suggestions and feedback from open sessions at the annual G-I-N conference. We have been fortunate to attract top speakers and have robust participation (80 to 150 participants per webinar).
- Do something even more useful. We also decided early to plan a 2-day conference, for which we partnered with the New York Academy of Medicine and were fortunate to obtain financial support from AHRQ and engage Health Affairs as a publication venue. By the time you read this the conference will have taken place and we will begin planning for the next venue.
- Always support G-I-N. Use all regional events to garner interest in G-I-N and the annual conference, and ensure that regional activities, including meetings, are noncompetitive (timing, content, speakers). We have acquired new organizational and individual G-I-N members as a result of G-I-N North America, with benefits to all involved.
The principles of developing trustworthy guidelines are largely global, but the practices of creating, adapting, and implementing them in different regions of the world are unquestionably local. Herein lies the opportunity for additional regional G-I-N communities, adding new members, new voices, and new opportunities for growing G-I-N as the premier global networking organization for guidelines and related activities.
As G-I-N North America moves from infancy to being a toddler I wanted to briefly thank all those who have made this such a wonderful success: the Board, our steering group, our members, webinar participants, conference attendees, our webinar host (Kaiser Permanente), and our conference partner (New York Academy of Medicine) and funder (AHRQ). We look forward to continued success and to learning from the successes of regional initiatives to come.