O&P EDGE: What excites you most about ExperienceAAOP2021?
Kaluf:The entire experience has been reimagined to provide the most engaging and educational content in a format that can be accessed and navigated by more O&P professionals than ever. The disruption to a traditional annual meeting from the ongoing pandemic has made it possible to expand to a virtual experience that brings the high-quality content directly to the profession without the travel requirements and time away from the clinic and home.
O&P EDGE: What do you hope attendees will take away from the event?
Kaluf: In addition to advancing their clinical knowledge and expanding their professional network, I hope attendees can come away from ExperienceAAOP2021with a feeling of “Wow, that virtual conference exceeded all my expectations.” The Academy staff and leadership has invested time and resources to learn from prior experiences and create a strong vision for ExperienceAAOP2021 that will have attendees feeling this has been the most engaging annual meeting yet.
O&P EDGE: You bring a unique perspective to the creation of this meeting. As an attendee and experienced speaker at in-person and virtual O&P events, what are some must-haves you brought to ExperienceAAOP2021 from the speaker and attendee perspective?
Kaluf: The value of ExperienceAAOP2021 is derived almost entirely from the contributions of the speakers and interaction from attendees, who represent O&P’s best and brightest. The annual meeting is viewed by many as a setting where the entire O&P profession comes together to hold space for the important conversations and discussion that continue to move the profession forward.
As an attendee, one of the must-haves for ExperienceAAOP2021 was a platform that facilitates the social collisions that happen naturally in the hallways, lunch tables, and exhibit halls that surround a typical annual meeting. With virtual conferences, that component can be missing, but at ExperienceAAOP2021, attendees will have the ability to identify, meet, and converse with their colleagues in ways that expand beyond in-person social interactions: live streaming discussion threads, live Q&A discussions moderated by experts in the profession, the #HallwayHuddle that will connect attendees between sessions, and the attendee-driven roundtable discussion rooms. Attendees at ExperienceAAOP2021 will be able to leverage all these resources to provide one of the biggest needs felt right now in O&P, namely the networking and association with our professional peers.
O&P EDGE: In the new world of virtual everything, what makes the platform used for ExperienceAAOP2021 unique?
Kaluf: Most O&P professionals will have attended virtual educational sessions by now, with some residual expectations for what attendance at ExperienceAAOP2021 may be like. The virtual platform through which attendees will engage with the content, speaker, and other attendees is what sets ExperienceAAOP2021 apart. This virtual meeting platform is built to function like common social media and digital consumption apps such as Facebook, Reddit, YouTube, and LinkedIn. The platform is simple for attendees to navigate to explore and find the content they are looking for, and at ExperienceAAOP2021, meeting and striking up a conversation with a professional colleague is easier than ever. The discussion threads during ongoing sessions will elevate the most important topics and questions to be addressed. The #HallwayHuddle between the sessions will give the attendees those “collision” opportunities to meet a new colleague, which can almost feel at random. The attendee and speaker profiles with filtering and searching capabilities will facilitate like-minded individuals to seek each other out and to send a message or schedule a video chat on the platform.
O&P EDGE: For those on the fence about attending, what words of advice do you have?
Kaluf: Not to miss out on an opportunity to be part of ExperienceAAOP2021. A typical annual meeting attendee may choose to come to a conference for continuing education or to learn about the latest technology advancements in O&P, but they also attend because of the sense of missing out that they may have if they don’t attend. ExperienceAAOP2021 will be a live experience and an event that has a palpable impact on the O&P profession for some time to come. The level of quality from the clinical content committee and invited expert speakers that ExperienceAAOP2021 has been able to bring together, due to the removal of travel requirements, is something that is going to be difficult to reproduce in future years at in-person conferences. The interactivity and the engagement in discussions that will happen live on the ExperienceAAOP2021 platform with all speakers and attendees is not something that can be reviewed or revisited. That type of impactful discussion and the take-aways have to be experienced live by registering early and holding time available to attend ExperienceAAOP2021.
My other bit of advice would be toward O&P professionals who may never before had the opportunity to attend an in-person annual meeting. If due to time constraints, clinic staffing/coverage requirements, or travel costs, making the trip to attend an on-site event has not been possible, then ExperienceAAOP2021 is a solution. Attendees can get a glimpse of what education, research, advocacy, and collaboration within the profession looks like. Attendees can gain access to networking and mentorship opportunities with experienced clinicians within the profession, such as scientific society leaders, fellows, past presidents, or active board members, in ways that feel less intimidating than walking up to them and having to introduce yourself. Attendees of ExperienceAAOP2021 can engage with the educational sessions needed to improve their clinical skill set, expand their clinical practice, as well as develop their career toward the direction they want to achieve.