Answering the call for science with Mark K. Wax, MD

December 2017/January 2018 – Vol. 36, No. 11

Mark K. Wax, MD

AAO-HNSF 2018 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience

Answering the call for science

After the unveiling of new aspects to the AAO-HSNF 2018 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience, Mark K. Wax, MD, Annual Meeting program coordinator, shared the vision of providing cutting-edge, state-of-the-art education opportunities that fully represent the diversity that makes up the international field of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery.

For the 2018 Annual Meeting, the names of program categories have changed. What used to be known as Instruction Courses will now be called Expert Series. The previous Miniseminars category will now be referenced as Panel Presentations. International Symposium, Masters of Surgery Video Presentations, and Scientific Oral/Poster Abstracts remain the same as in past years.

“As we consider the program in total, we look at what topics the attendees want their area of focused learning to be and we work to integrate that throughout the entire spectrum of the meeting,” Dr. Wax explained. “Renaming the program categories better represents what it is learners expect from those continuous learning experiences and it better drives the development of the program to meet those needs.”

Another important change is the single timeframe for submissions. For the 2018 Annual Meeting, the submission site is open through 11:59 pm EST, January 17, 2018, and it accepts all program categories. In years past, there were two open submission timeframes.

“Not only does having all proposals submitted at the same time benefit the Program Committee in being able to look at all the submissions in total, it makes it easier on presenters in ensuring their submissions are in on time and connected to the correct program category,” said Dr. Wax, who has been an integral part of education program development for the Annual Meeting and education offerings from the Foundation for approximately 15 years.

“Continuous learning is fundamental to the practicing otolaryngologist,” he said. “It is simply in our nature. We love to learn. The AAO-HNS Foundation provides continuous learning opportunities like no other. To be a part of that has been and continues to be a remarkable experience.”

The AAO-HNSF leadership and Dr. Wax endorse a concerted effort to assure that the 2018 program provides a diverse portfolio of presenters, experience, backgrounds, perspectives, topics, and much more. “The Foundation is committed to creating a larger footprint in the diversity of our education offerings as well as those who present at the Annual Meeting. We recognize that the program must address the educational wants and needs of a diverse population as well as build on the cultural competence of our specialty overall.”

Dr. Wax also noted the expanding international track as an enhanced value to the Annual Meeting experience. “The international community is a broad representation and essential piece to the Academy and the Annual Meeting. Medicine and healthcare are different all over the world. As we look to the international program offerings, we must remember that while we have a lot to offer to the international community, the international community has a lot to offer to us.”

Making the jump from experiencing the Annual Meeting as an attendee to presenting one’s work can be daunting for some. “The best advice I can give is to start early and find a mentor who can help you throughout the process, especially in writing a good abstract. It is often the abstract that makes the difference between a proposal being selected or declined,” Dr. Wax said.

“If you have a great idea, you need to get other people involved so that you can build the quality of your presentation based on the feedback from your mentor or those more experienced in the field. You can build your network not only in your local healthcare community but also through involvement in the Academy—by applying to serve on a committee or joining the Section for Residents and Fellows-in-Training, Young Physicians Sections, or Women in Otolaryngology Section,” he said. “Another important aspect of presenting is having the charisma to engage your audience for a positive learning experience. Find mentors who can help you with both writing a good abstract and developing a presentation style that captivates your audience.”

When asked why an individual should submit a proposal, Dr. Wax discussed how the essence of continuous learning occurs when knowledge and experience are transmitted from one to another. He said this can benefit the presenters in sharing their findings as well as the otolaryngology–head and neck surgery community and the patients served. “We are all educators in one way or another, and we find that as we go out and practice, things are sometimes very different than the way we were taught. Perhaps you have an interesting case study, or you developed a new treatment algorithm. There is great value in sharing that experience and spreading that knowledge with your peers—for you, them, and our patients.”

According to Dr. Wax, the proposal submission process can be competitive and, of course, the Annual Meeting Program Committee can’t accept all presentations. “Even if your presentation is not accepted, there is great experience to be gained. Not only are you improving your abstract writing abilities, but you are building networks of connections through mentorship and colleague engagement.”

While the education program provides attendees with a global perspective of scientific research, experience, and practice, Dr. Wax shared the overall value provided by attending the Annual Meeting. “There is no other venue like the Annual Meeting where you can get the face-to-face experience with your peers and interaction with world-renowned leaders. Even more, with the OTO Experience, you get all the latest equipment, technology, and advancements in one place. It is a great place to see these cutting-edge products first-hand. With all of that—the education, experience, and access to a community of colleagues—the Annual Meeting is an essential continuous learning destination for all of us.”