Perhaps because after more than a year of attending Zoom meetings and having figured out for the most part (at least that’s what I tell myself) how to navigate my way through such a meeting, ExperienceAAOP2021 appeared to hit the virtual mark.
Suzanne Watts, CP, Stride Prosthetics in Barbados, thought so, too. Though she was disappointed she couldn’t visit New Orleans, where the conference was supposed to be this year, she thanked the Academy for the meeting. “Kudos to the Academy,” she wrote, “for such an awesome virtual conference.”
The meeting and scientific symposium offered something for everyone with 111 sessions in all. Attendees liked being able to ask and get answers to their questions during a session, or getting emailed answers afterward.
A few attendees on the Q&A platform offered suggestions for future virtual meetings.
Jason Kercher, an O&P student who was thankful for good home WiFi, wrote that sessions should open a few minutes earlier than one minute before the start time. “Multiple times I’m too early and then I can’t get in on time, or I forget and then I’m late and miss the introductions.” Kercher also wrote that a mobile friendly app would “be cool, beneficial in general for AAOP.”
Jordan Gaffney, MSPO, CO, resident prosthetist with Hanger Clinic, wrote that she didn’t like scrolling the questions/comments during sessions. “It takes away from the conversation and can even discourage people from speaking out,” wrote Gaffney, who also liked that there wasn’t an exhibit hall this year. “Those tend to be a bit messy on a virtual platform,” she wrote.
The Hallway Huddles and the morning coffee sessions helped make the virtual meeting feel more personable and intimate.
Today’s Hallway Huddle had a lively discussion around dual computer monitors, standing desks, and vitamin D. The backdrop on the computer screen of Sarah Thomas, CPO, FAAOP, and Academy president-elect, showed white clouds dotting a brilliant blue Vermont sky. She was sitting outside her home to take advantage of a rare sunny day. “I need to get my vitamin D,” she told everyone.
If you didn’t get the chance to attend everything you wanted during the event, not to worry.
Manisha Bhaskar, senior director of communications and development for the Academy, said those registered for the full conference will receive access to all session content via the virtual platform through May 31, and then via the Academy’s ExperienceAAOP2021 Learning Channel on the organization’s Online Learning Center through December 31.
There will be plenty of good content to access again from the luxury of your home office for the rest of the year.
Looking for a few suggestions?
Here are my recommendations: I especially enjoyed the Schwartz Rounds: Challenging Family Dynamics in O&P, a frank session on Thursday that focused on the human dimension of medicine. Speakers were John Brinkmann, CPO, FAAOP(D), Chrysta Irolla, CPO, and Seth O’Brien, CP, FAAOP. Each provided a truthful and often blunt assessment of the social and emotional issues involved in a specific challenging situation they faced in caring for patients and families. The panelists and audience discussed each scenario with the goal of supporting each other and growing in the understanding of how to navigate challenging encounters.
The session on diversity in the O&P workplace was also an eye-opening, fact-filled meeting. Speakers Amandi Rhett, MS, CPO, LPO; Paul Irving; Nneka Sederstrom, PhD, MPH, MA, FCCP, FCCM; Farahnas Doost, CO, offered a plethora of statistics and a methodical framework for O&P professionals to improve diversity in their workplace, as well as providing actionable tools to remediate inequities within the field.
And check out the roundtable on hot topics in O&P, too. Speakers were Brian Kaluf, CP, FAAOP; Eric Weber, CPO, FAAOP; Kristin Carnahan, CPO, FAAOP; and Kinsey Herrin, CPO, FAAOP. The discussion provided all attendees the chance to share perspectives with a small group of colleagues. Topics ranged from 3D printing, telehealth, trends in lower-limb prosthetics, practical implementation of new clinical technology, and strategies for work/life balance, among others.
Finally, while this year’s virtual meeting draws to a fruitful close, the Academy is already planning the 48th annual event—Engage. Evolve. Emerge.—which will be held in person in Atlanta, March 2-5, 2022.