A group of RMA of New Jersey staff recently returned from Austin, Texas, where they attended the annual Association of Reproductive Managers (ARM) meeting and learned about risk management, patient experience, employee retention, and even how to make your own BBQ sauce!

RMA brought a small contingent of clinical and non-clinical staff to ARM, which is the professional group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) that is committed to advancing fertility practice management “through leadership, research, and education.”

Director of Operations Lindsey McBain, Director of Nursing Jessica Medvedich, Advanced Practice Provider Lauren Nervi, Patient Experience Director Telma Andrade, Physician Services Manager Amanda Daghli and Patient Services Manager Jamie Martelli all attended the meeting.

For the second year in a row, ARM partnered with the Nursing Professional Group (NPG), an ASRM body, to diversify content and speakers and add more value to the group, said McBain, who was elected to ARM’s board of directors in 2015 and currently serves as past chair.

“This year I really enjoyed the risk management focus of many of the topics,” McBain said. “All in all, the event is just a wonderful resource for managers in the specialty field of REI to meet and discuss current topics and best processes.”

While Medvedich co-presented on the topic of informed consent paperwork for frozen sperm and eggs, Nervi spoke on how advanced practice providers like her – nurse practitioners who work hand in hand with doctors to care for patients – impact the way fertility centers function.

“An excellent nursing department is imperative for a reproductive health practice to be successful,” Nervi said, “and it’s interesting to understand how other fertility clinics function throughout the country to figure out what works and what doesn’t.”

“I think it’s really important to learn from others in order to grow and develop and be the best at what we do!”

Finally, the meeting had a big focus on patient experience and how to improve the patient journey. Andrade, who run RMA’s patient experience department, said it was heartening to see many of the ideas suggested at ARM already in place at RMA. Even still, she saw room for improvement and took back a few new ideas she can implement at home.

“There was a big emphasis on physician training and patient communication and support, and we have made big strides in all three,” Andrade said. “Of course, the patient experience is always evolving, and so are we in the way we provide care from start to finish.”

Martelli, who found the employee retention panel particularity insightful, said the best part of ARM was bonding with her RMA colleagues.

“We flew in together, we ate all our meals together, and we flew out together,” Martelli said. “It was really nice to get to know these women better, especially because we mostly work in different areas.”

The one other thing that was pretty cool? The BBQ “sauce-off” held the first night of the meeting. In addition to eating as much brisket and ribs as their hearts desired, our RMA team members split up to join other groups to compete in the BBQ-making competition, where teams used ingredients as diverse as sprite and Dr. Pepper to make the tastiest BBQ sauce. Other ingredients for use?

“Beer, salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, hot sauce, lemon juice, onions, vinegar, apple juice, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste,” Andrade rattled off. “I might be missing a few.”

The winning concoction was made of ingredients including honey and ketchup, by Nervi and Daghli’s team – how sweet it is!