Published: February 28, 2022

Adapting, Innovating, and Elevating the Annual Meeting Experience

Prepare to bring your voice to the hallways, to raise questions in the meeting rooms, to greet colleagues and friends, and to refresh the connections that help us create the future of our field...

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD
AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting Program Coordinator

Daniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting Program CoordinatorDaniel C. Chelius, Jr., MD
AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting Program Coordinator
The AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO Experience has always been the backbone and heart of our Academy, solidifying the structures that empower our efforts and engendering the passion that sustains our community. As the Academy has grown, the meeting has grown with it. As new technologies and techniques have promised greater opportunity for our practices and our patients, we have seen the meeting evolve to incorporate and investigate how we can benefit from those advances and keep pace with the changing times.

The Annual Meeting has adapted to the needs of the community and the opportunities of the era many times over throughout our rich 125+-year history. The following are just a few examples of how the Academy has transitioned through innovation to elevate the offerings of the Annual Meeting: 

  • The 1921 launch of the Instruction Courses was initiated to meet the demand for standardized post-graduate education in the loosely connected Midwest and western states. 
  • The incorporation of “video” education in the 1940s allowed us to share the latest in surgical techniques on a new medium. 
  • The move away from our traditional hotel home in Kansas City, Missouri, to convention centers and rotating cities across the United States was indicative of our growth and commitment to equitable access to the meeting content.
  • When new technology allowed us to reliably capture the presentations as recordings in the 1990s, it opened the door to extend the learning opportunities temporally and geographically. 
  • As the Academy expanded its global connections, so too did the Annual Meeting program incorporating the International Symposium into the main schedule and highlighting international thought leaders within the specialty and welcoming learners from around the world to participate.
  • Fast forward to 2020, the Virtual Annual Meeting was delivered completely online as in-person events were not possible due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • And in 2021, when the pandemic continued to impact travel and large gatherings, the AAO-HNSF supplemented the in-person meeting with a virtual option to accommodate the existing travel restrictions. This allowed us to provide a safe world-class education experience for in-person and virtual attendees both domestically and internationally. 

As medical societies around the world continue to evaluate the best way to either return their meetings to a pre-pandemic “status quo” state or move forward incorporating new platforms, technologies, and experiences—I am confident our Annual Meeting will remain at the forefront as the “meeting of the future” continues to meet the changing needs of our membership and their patients. 

Strategic planning

Last fall, AAO-HNS/F President, Ken Yanagisawa, MD, and EVP/CEO, James C. Denneny III, MD, launched the Future of Meetings Task Force (FMTF) under the leadership of AAO-HNS/F President-elect Kathleen L. Yaremchuk, MD, MSA. The task force incorporates a diversity of stakeholder perspectives charged to consider the structures, settings, platforms, and strategic goals of all AAO-HNS/F meetings including our Annual Meeting. The FMTF engaged an outside meeting event design and consulting firm to lead a strategic assessment and foundational alignment process. It will report out to the Board of Directors this spring, and we expect the guidance to instruct and focus meeting planning in the coming years.

Looking forward to 2022 in Philly

We are enthusiastic to be planning an in-person meeting in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for the AAO-HNSF 2022 Annual Meeting & OTO Experience, September 10-14. We received more than 1,800 submissions during the Call for Science for this fall’s meeting. I believe this record number reflects a passion for science and education in our community and the strong desire to renew our sense of connection. 

The Annual Meeting Program Committee (AMPC) is hard at work in our review process, while affiliated AAO-HNS/F groups like the Simulation Education Committee and the Medical Devices Committee are preparing a Call for Submissions for SIM Tank and the ENTrepreneur Face-Off events. The Great Debates, which debuted this past year to positive reviews, will be featured again, and we are excited to be crafting these in collaborations with the AMPC and Foundation Education Committees. 

The program is always further enhanced with the offerings of the AAO-HNS Sections. As we speak, the leaders from the Sections are busy preparing their General Assemblies and thought-providing programs. 

The gathering of the Annual Meeting is also about celebrating each other and honoring the achievements of those who contribute greatly to the specialty, their peers, colleagues, and patients, and the AAO-HNS/F. The Awards Committee is receiving and reviewing the nominations for the many Academy recognitions that will be honored and bestowed at the meeting, including the second class of inductees for the Hall of Distinction. Look to future issues of the Bulletin for more about the honorees for all AAO-HNS/F Awards. 

How can I still add my voice? 

Although the Call for Science closed at the end of January, there are still many opportunities to share your voice at the Annual Meeting. 

  • Consider submitting to the SIM Tank or ENTrepreneur Face-Off events
  • Share your late-breaking science during our submission period coming up in May/June 
  • Nominate a colleague for an AAO-HNS/F Award 
  • Contact your appropriate Section leaders to learn of volunteer opportunities this summer that will lead into heightened meeting engagement this fall 

Most of all, prepare to bring your voice to the hallways, to raise questions in the meeting rooms, to greet colleagues and friends, and to refresh the connections that help us create the future of our field as we come together for the world’s largest annual otolaryngology retreat this September in Philadelphia.