For the Future
As virtual meetings get up and running, physicians may rethink whether they want to take a week or two away from their lives to attend in-person conferences. At a time when travel itself has become rare, some physicians may prioritize family vacations over annual meetings. “It isn’t that people don’t want to travel and see each other,” said Dr. Merati, “but there won’t be eight weeks of professional travel for me next year. And when I do take off two weeks, going somewhere with my family will be my first priority.”
Explore This IssueSeptember 2020
Society memberships may also fall off if doctors don’t pay their dues or are inclined not to renew. And since meetings have a way of impressing young physicians who may want to join, recruitment will be affected too. “Residents, students, and brand-new faculty attend the meetings and meet people there who guide their careers, and that isn’t happening,” said Dr. Stewart. “There’s going to be some loss of engagement, mentorship, and career development for young otolaryngologists if this goes on too long.”
Dr. Denneny feels confident in the future of the AAO-HNS after witnessing what he calls the “exceptional response” of its members when asked to serve in the worst of times. “Disruptive change brings opportunity for the prepared,” he said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated trends that were already emerging and will certainly have long-lasting impact in the ways we do so many things as a society.”
Dr. Merati agrees, noting that preserving specialty unity overall will benefit from maintaining connection to the field as a whole. “This serves everyone in the long run, whether through advocacy or advancing the universal cause of otolaryngology for patients and practices,” he said. “Whether virtual or in person, big meetings in general support the breadth of otolaryngology and serve us all well.”
Renée Bacher is a freelance medical writer based in Louisiana.