Published: August 24, 2020

Planning your #OTOMTG20 Experience: Ask the Experts

The AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting Program Committee, led by Mark K. Wax, MD, Coordinator, and Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD, Coordinator-Elect, has taken the reins of the AAO-HNSF 2020 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience to transition it to one of a virtual experience for attendees from around the globe.

The AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting Program Committee, led by Mark K. Wax, MD, Coordinator, and Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD, Coordinator-Elect, has taken the reins of the AAO-HNSF 2020 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience to transition it to one of a virtual experience for attendees from around the globe.

Minka Schofield, MDMinka Schofield, MD

Minka Schofield, MD, member of the Annual Meeting Program Committee, moderates a podcast discussion with Dr. Wax and Dr. Chelius to discuss the plans for the Virtual Annual Meeting and how this meeting is a can’t-miss experience! The following are excerpts from that discussion.

What are you most excited about for this year’s Virtual Annual Meeting?

Mark K. Wax, MDMark K. Wax, MD

Dr. Wax: I’m very excited that the Academy has rallied at this time to explore what is really a new dimension in an academic enterprise. It’s going to make us stronger, and it’s moving us forward into the next dimension of education. I think that it is all terribly exciting.

Dr. Chelius: I am really looking forward to setting aside some time to visit with my peers and colleagues in this virtual environment. I am also excited just to see this come to life. It represents so much hard work by our staff, Programming Committee, and expert speakers in a very short time frame.

What will the Virtual Annual Meeting offer that is equally as exciting as an in-person meeting?

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MDDaniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD

Dr. Chelius: The number one thing that is equivalent is the same amazing minds in our field bringing their expertise to the ongoing conversation of otolaryngology. That’s what the Annual Meeting is at its core—a conversation about who we are and where we’re going as a field. And those minds and those discussions are still going to be there.

Dr. Wax: This new format is going to be extremely beneficial to those in our specialty because it provides the flexibility to allow attendees to get all available CME hours for all education content at their convenience.

This year’s conference will span over six weeks. Can you describe the flow of the meeting?

Dr. Chelius: The general flow includes the first three days of live content followed by six weeks of mixed live and prerecorded content. All content will be available in a recorded format during the six weeks of the meeting and then going forward on the Academy’s education platform, if the presenters have agreed to share their content.

With Vision and Commitment: Through the Eyes of the Annual Meeting Program Coordinator


Mark K. Wax, MD, has served as Annual Meeting Program Coordinator since 2016. The AAO-HNSF 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting & OTO Experience is his last meeting serving in this position.

“The Academy would like to extend our sincere appreciation for the innovative work that Dr. Wax has contributed to the Annual Meeting program. He has left an indelible mark on the vast array of opportunities that the program presents both in education and networking. Through his ongoing and unwavering commitment to providing value and relevance to attendees, he has helped shape and shift the program to remain at the forefront of offerings and on the cutting edge of education,” said James C. Denneny III, MD, AAO-HNS/F Executive Vice President and CEO.

Why do you think the decision to hold the Virtual Annual Meeting this year is essential to the specialty?

Dr. Wax: I think that it demonstrates the resiliency of the Academy and the ability that we must be able to continue to move forward. No matter what obstacles are going on around us, we are still otolaryngologists and we still take care of patients. We all want to continue with our excellence of patient care and continue to learn, educate, and provide the best for our patients. Holding the Annual Meeting allows us to do that.

What do you value about participation in the Academy and in particular attending the Annual Meeting?

Dr. Wax: I’ve always gone to the Annual Meeting because it provides a great opportunity to learn. I recently had an opportunity to reflect on taking innovation and turning it into an active idea and then into active practice. It made me think of all the things that I’ve changed from when I first graduated. A lot of the changes that I’ve implemented in my practice are because of things that I learned at the Academy’s Annual Meeting. The ability to ask the experts and get diverse opinions is something that you just don’t get anywhere, no matter who you know or where you operate.

Do you remember the first time you went to an Annual Meeting?

Dr. Wax: I’ve been going to the Annual Meeting for 30+ years or more. Originally I went to take courses and learn really interesting things that were exciting that I hadn’t learned in residency. The basic otolaryngology, the esoteric—it was fascinating. Being able to walk up to the “big names” was unbelievable! The Annual Meeting is a great feature of the Academy—it lets you do what you are most interested in and in a way that consists of multidisciplinary collaborative efforts.

What other hot topics and groundbreaking science will be presented during the Virtual Annual Meeting?

Dr. Chelius: There’s going to be groundbreaking science everywhere you turn in this virtual environment. For example, the scientific orals are going to be available on an individual basis as a pre-recorded presentation, so it will be very easy to go through and look for the scientific oral presentations that most appeal to you.

Can you share more information about the poster hall viewing experience?

Dr. Wax: Posters will be searchable, with each poster author offering a three-minute talk about the content of their research. So, you will be able to find a poster and review at your leisure. The added dimension of a three-minute verbal presentation allows the presenter to discuss the nuances that are hard to convey in a limited poster format.

Will the Virtual Annual Meeting include any networking opportunities?

Dr. Chelius: I think it’s really cool in the platform that wherever you are in the virtual environment you’ll be able to see what other attendees are also on the platform at that time. You can message them, request a video chat, or set up a time later to meet with them. In some ways, it replicates the experience of walking around the convention center and seeing a colleague in the distance that you wave to and catch up with off to the side.

There will also be some formal opportunities for networking during the specialty weeks, offering “office hours” with some of the experts in the field via a chat room function where you can pose questions and have discussions.

There will also be networking lounges for featuring some wellness sessions, such as rooms for yoga and Peloton group rides.

Will there still be an Exhibit Hall (OTO Experience) or the ability to view and purchase products and services virtually?

Dr. Wax: The companies that deal with otolaryngology are on the cutting edge of the meeting format and have adapted to be able to interact with attendees in this virtual world. There is going to be a great opportunity to interact with our exhibitors through the platform. Virtual consultations will be available, and the opportunities for one-on-one discussions will be a unique setting.

Frequ En Tcy

Listen to the full interview on the Academy’s podcast channel, frequENTcy.

Why should someone register for the Virtual Annual Meeting?

Dr. Chelius: This meeting is the yearly culmination of our conversation about who we are as otolaryngologists. It’s important for us to all show up together and continue the conversation and to draw consolation, solace, and renewal in each other as these are extremely difficult times we’re facing. It is important to be there for each other to really emphasize that We Are One in otolaryngology no matter where you are in the world.

Dr. Schofield: I’d like to thank Dr. Wax and Dr. Chelius for updating us on the Annual Meeting that has a theme this year of “Bringing Together the World of Otolaryngology.” Even though the theme was chosen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no other theme that would ring more true at this time. As we bring together the world of otolaryngology, now more than ever, We Are One.

More from September 2020 – Vol. 39, No. 8