Published: April 23, 2021

AAO-HNSF 2021 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience: New Innovative Program Offerings for 2021

While we will enjoy many of the presentation formats and themes that have been solidified over the meetings of the past decades, we will continue to incorporate new platforms and focuses.

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD
Annual Meeting Program Coordinator

Annual Meeting Hero

As I sit here writing, I’ve just finished watching a thought-provoking discussion on the state of pediatric otolaryngology from the American Society of Pediatric Otolaryngology (ASPO) annual meeting. Like many of our members, I attended the Combined Otolaryngology Spring Meetings (COSM) virtually April 7-11, tuning in for live-streamed education offerings from ASPO and the American Head and Neck Society (AHNS). As we’ve all experienced so often during the pandemic, the formal meetings were on my computer screen while text messages, emails, and other real-time electronic communications from friends, colleagues, and collaborators streamed through my phone. Sometimes these notes were the digital equivalent of leaning over to whisper an observation about a scientific presentation or an idea for a new study. Other times they were a chance to congratulate my friends on a new position or a great talk, albeit delivered from across the country or the world. Of course, we had to catch up on families and careers, substituting laughter in the hall outside a meeting room for smiling emojis. Uniformly the conversations ended with the same sentiments—I can’t wait to see you again and to do this together. 

Our 125th AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO Experience will be an important time of reconnection, education, and inspiration. The necessity of meeting remotely during the pandemic has cast sharp focus on how precious our time together is. As Blake C. Papsin, MD, implored the ASPO and Triologic Society audience that weekend in April, it is critical for us to come together outside our narrow subspecialty silos to participate in the greater otolaryngology community and the greater house of medicine because that is where we can begin to solve our society’s biggest problems. Our Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) and our Academy staff have been working diligently to organize a meeting under the uncertainty inherent in the pandemic that will still provide the background structure on which we can move both our individual practices and our entire field forward. 

With over 1,400 submissions, the response to our Annual Meeting Call for Science was incredible, despite the restrictions of the pandemic. Presenter notifications will be sent in May. While we will enjoy many of the presentation formats and themes that have been solidified over the meetings of the past decades, we will continue to incorporate new platforms and focuses, both to meet our attendees’ education needs and to restructure the discussion around important topics. 

One highlight of the meeting will be our new Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery Great Debates series. I'm grateful to Cecelia Damask, DO, and Richard K. Gurgel, MD, who led our AMPC Education Innovation Strategic Team in crafting the platform. The AMPC education track leaders have collaborated with the AAO-HNSF Education Committees and associated subspecialty societies to identify contentious issues deserving of our collective focus and deliberation as well as prominent thought leaders who can push these discussions forward via structured debate. While speaker confirmations and scheduling are ongoing, the topics are set and reflect timely and critical issues in our community (see the sidebar). 

This year’s Annual Meeting also will launch our new Personal and Professional Development (PPD) education track with the aim to improve our individual ability to most effectively provide the care that we work so hard to discover—to optimize and to revolutionize in the clinical subspecialty tracks. The PPD subgroup, led by Minka L. Schofield, MD, received exceptional proposals on a wide range of topics including wellness, communication, leadership, mentorship, community engagement, and equity in healthcare and in the house of medicine. 

In most of the side conversations during COSM, friends also asked me if we’ll really be meeting live in Los Angeles, California, this fall. The most honest answer is that we are planning for it, and I truly hope so. We will have to see how the California health and safety guidelines change this summer and what our travel capabilities are. In all our planning for the live meeting, we are building virtual contingencies and creating a flexible plan to meet October’s circumstances, whatever they may be.

As I finish writing this article, I had the opportunity to also attend the AAO-HNS/F 2021 Leadership Forum & BOG Spring Meeting, held on April 17. Lance A. Manning, MD, Board of Governors Chair, put together an exciting and relevant program that also allowed time set aside to see so many dear friends and to honor their work over this past year. But now with that meeting over, I’m looking forward to being together in LA.  

More from May 2021 – Vol. 40, No. 4