American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

From the Director's Desk

From the Acute to the Chronic Phase of Virtual Meetings: Filling in the Missing Pieces

Heidi Nelson, MD, FACSHeidi Nelson, MD, FACS
Medical Director, ACS Cancer Programs

As we celebrated the holidays and committed to our resolutions for the coming year, none of us saw this coming. None of us could have imagined that this was the year when we would develop our virtual proficiency, unpack our suitcases for a bit of time, and trade our airline tickets for more time with family and pets. By early March we had canceled in person meetings, and by April we were hosting well-attended webinars on a frequent basis. Early adaptation in the acute phase went remarkably well, and we hardly missed a beat. We accomplished a lot of our goals, and we kept pretty well connected. By now, it is unfortunately evident that the pandemic is not waning, and despite our great success in the early phase, we are presently in a gradual transition to a chronic phase of an evolving virtual world. While we are mastering the technical side of recording our own slide presentations and getting quicker at unmuting, we are also recognizing that something is missing. Feedback from the July Cancer Programs meetings calls out that “there’s no substitute for the coffee break” and that networking and engagement feature less prominently at virtual meetings. Given the strong need for social human connections, the chronic phase of the virtual world will require new adaptations, with greater emphasis on discussion, and time for social interactions. It will be uncharted territory for all of us, so let’s enjoy the discovery of our new future together as we zoom forward.