From drive-by birthday celebrations to Zoom dinner parties, COVID-19 has shifted what it means to be social. And as ASET-The Neurodiagnostic Society ramps up its first-ever virtual annual meeting, the organization is helping to define what it means for professional communities to stay connected and grow together while social distancing.

ASET’s annual conference has been held in an American city every summer since 1960. It brings together hundreds of neurodiagnostic technologists as well as renowned leaders and educators in the field. This year, the meeting was going to be held in San Diego before it was derailed by the pandemic and moved completely online.

The virtual conference will run for three days, August 20-22, 2020, and the registration deadline is August 17. You can register here.

“We at ASET are so excited to still be able to bring neurodiagnostic technologists the educational content they have come to expect from us,” said Linda Kelly, ASET’s director of education. “We know how important professional education is to our members and beyond, and we are pleased to be able to harness technology to deliver it to, hopefully, more people than ever before!”

Click here to take a peek at their educational offerings this year.

In addition to its educational merit, the annual meeting has long served an important social function for neurodiagnostic technologists. Many techs work solo from home or are tucked away in a basement lab, and they can often feel set apart from the rest of the medical team.

“We have new ASET faces to meet and will miss friends and colleagues we only see at the ASET annual conference,” said ASET President Connie Kubiak. “Our social time, keynote, awards, presentations and conference app promise to make us seem like we are all in the room together.”

The conference will convene over Zoom and a custom conference app, as well as via social media. And longtime conference attendees will be happy to know they will still get to listen to the smooth tones of the neurotech band the Dendrites. You can watch them perform “Drinks with the Dendrites,” on August 21 at 4:15 p.m. CDT, streamed through the conference app.

Conference organizers and attendees will be tweeting with the #ASETconference hashtag, according to Aman Ayalew, marketing manager at ASET. Tweets and other social media participation during the conference will be aggregated on the “Social Wall,” part of the custom-made conference app, which will have other social promotion features as well.

Each attendee will be able to set up an app profile, which includes their photo, company, title, bio, social media, phone, address, and website. Attendees will have control over their privacy settings and can either chat or text through the app or connect through a conferencing tool like Zoom and Meet. The app has a scheduling feature that allows people to make appointments to connect online. They can also view the agenda and details of every session.

“The mobile app is an integral part of the conference to help people network virtually,” Avalew added.

This year’s digital meeting comes with some unexpected perks. it is significantly less expensive and far easier to attend. No plane tickets to buy. No hotels to book. No time off for travel days. That mean the conference is available for more people from more parts of the world than ever before.

“By hosting a virtual annual meeting, neurodiagnostic professionals who may not have been able to participate in previous years due to travel limitations will now have an opportunity to participate in the premier neurodiagnostic event of the year,” ASET Executive Director Kevin Helm said.