The ACHA 2019 Annual Meeting took place in Denver May 28-June 1. The ACHA National Office staff welcomed nearly 2,100 college health and wellness professionals to Denver for an extraordinary opportunity to join colleagues from across the country to Elevate Well-Being for the nation’s 20 million college students.
The meeting kicked off on Tuesday with an exciting day of 16 Pre-Conference Workshops with topics ranging from accreditation, mental health, sports medicine, nursing leadership, and electronic tobacco products. These interactive deep-dive workshops allow attendees to get hands-on experience in specific topic areas. Also on Tuesday, ACHA brought back the popular training from BleedingControl.org called Stop the Bleed. This initiative from the American College of Surgeons is an effort to save lives by raising awareness of basic actions to stop life-threatening bleeding following everyday emergencies and man-made and natural disasters. Nearly 100 attendees participated in this training, and ACHA would like to extend our thanks to the trainers who volunteered their time to teach our participants. If you were unable to attend and would like to participate in a Stop the Bleed training in your area, visit www.BleedingControl.org/class/search or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
On Wednesday the conference kicked off with the Opening General Session. Attendees listened to messages of welcome from the ACHA president, president-elect, Students/Consumers Section chair, Rocky Mountain College Health Association president, and representatives of the American College Health Foundation (ACHF). This year’s Keynote Speaker was Kevin Hines, an award-winning global speaker, bestselling author, documentary filmmaker, and suicide prevention and mental health advocate who has reached millions with his story of an unlikely survival and his strong will to live. Two years after he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, he attempted to take his life by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. He is one of only thirty-four (less than 1%) to survive the fall and he is the only Golden Gate Bridge jump survivor who is actively spreading the message of living mentally healthy.
Following the Opening General Session, the general educational sessions got underway. This year’s program featured more than 150 educational sessions that brought attendees cutting edge research, guidelines, programs, and best practices in college health and wellness from across the county – and beyond! With CE credit offered in 10 disciplines, attendees were sure to maximize their continuing education needs during ACHA 2019.
One of the main goals of any ACHA Annual Meeting is to create as many networking opportunities as possible for our attendees. We were pleased to bring back the highly successful Aspire: ACHA Mentoring program at the 2019 Annual Meeting. This year, we matched about 60 college health professionals with mentors, and the overwhelming response was positive from both mentors and mentees alike. We also brought back the Rising Leaders Coffee Hour on Friday morning to give anyone wishing to become more involved in the association a chance to meet with current leadership. Of course, we also featured old favorites such as the Newcomers’ Orientation, Opening Reception, and association and adjunct meetings.
New to the ACHA Annual Meeting was the interactive needs assessment board from the newly formed Education Planning Committee. Each day, the committee posted two topics of interest with four questions or approaches that could be the focus of upcoming webinars or other continuing education activities. Attendees could then “vote” with stickers on which topics would be best suited for their needs. More information about this initiative will be available in the Summer issue of Action.
We also welcomed institutional recruiting sessions to ACHA 2019 which gave institutional members a chance to take advantage of 2,000 college health and wellness professionals in one location as they search for qualified candidates. We hope to expand these sessions in 2020 and make them even more beneficial for institutions and attendees.
One small but notable change to the programming for ACHA 2019 was the restyling of ACHA Celebrates! on Wednesday. The event began with an informal networking reception co-hosted by the Ethnic Diversity and LGBTQ+ Coalitions. From here we moved into the ballroom for the 2019 Awards and Fellows presentation. Finally, the night concluded with raucous laughter thanks to a special performance by the hilarious mystery group The Million Dollar Murder.
From all of us at the National Office, we hope your time at ACHA 2019 was fulfilling, not only for your continuing education needs but also for your networking needs and as a chance for collaboration with colleagues. We hope you’ll join us for ACHA 2020 – ACHA’s 100th anniversary – in Chicago!