500 Cummings Center
Beverly, MA 01915
Tel. (978) 927-8330
Fax: (978) 524-8890
James Whiting, MD
COVID-19 and the (Maybe) Silver Lining
Itís kind of difficult to write, think, or talk about anything these days without focusing on how COVID-19 has changed us. Certainly that is true with the New England Surgical Society. As you all know, our Annual Meeting will be held virtually this year. Some things you may or may not know; financially, the Society has managed to stay healthy due to the decisions and leadership of our President, Walter Longo and the foresight and involvement of PRRI. Meeting-wise, the Executive and Program Committees have probably spent at least twice as much time in meetings trying to find the right balance of virtual, in-person and postponed/cancelled activities. Academically, we had to cancel our Annual Resident Research Day last May, but with the added lead time afforded by a scheduled late fall meeting, weíre expecting a vigorous and interesting Virtual Annual Meeting. A number of societies have already done meetings in this format, weíve tried to learn from them, and although we will all miss the social interactions and exploring Newport, RI, itís in times like these that it becomes even more important to support the academic aspects of the society. The butterflies in the stomach of the residents presenting will be just as real virtually, and we hope the interchange with the presenters will also be just as robust as in the past. Weíve learned a lot about virtual education over the last six months, and although I as an educator canít wait to get back to more face-to-face conferences, there are certainly things that will stay with us, post COVID-19.
There has been a plethora of virtual visiting professorships, and although you canít completely replace the experience of visiting a different center, there clearly will be a role in the future for more virtual interchanges between institutions. The chat function, while certainly possible to abuse, has opened up educational interchanges in ways that are difficult to duplicate in person. We see a wider variety of comments, we see comments from individuals who donít always speak up in person, and conversely, we see some of our more long winded colleagues limited and forced to condense their comments by the formatís limitations. Routine recording of presentations has allowed us to ďbankĒ particularly strong presentations. It has also allowed us to help learners hone their presentation skills. Obviously recording presentations for the future and for learning is nothing new, but the barriers are much lower now. There certainly will be things that donít deserve to live on after COVID-19 as well; Iíd probably put a Tiger King virtual background in that category. So although our Annual Meeting this year wonít be in person and it wonít be over cocktails, we look forward to seeing you all this fall, at least virtually!
James Whiting, MD