Virtual AAFPRS Meeting in Retrospect

AAFPRS leaders weigh in on their virtual annual meeting, noting pros and cons and opportunities for an evolving meeting approach.

In August we spoke with Michael Somenek, M.D., facial plastic surgeon and Co-Chair of the annual meeting of the American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery (AAFPRS) to talk about the decision to go virtual for this year’s AAFPRS meeting and what attendees can expect, including features such as live and pre-recorded sessions, workshops, CME, and the benefits of a virtual exhibition hall. The meeting, which took place September 10-12, was the first of its magnitude among the specialty's associations. What was the meeting experience like? We asked several AAFPRS leaders for their input. This is what they said.

J Randall Jordan, MD, FACS

AAFPRS Meetings Program Director

Q: What was the virtual meeting experience like for you? Did it meet expectations?

A: The virtual meeting was easy to use and navigate. It was better than I expected and there were parts of it that I would like to see at future meetings.

Q: What were the pros compared with a live event? Cons?

A: Much of the virtual meeting worked very well, especially the live sessions and the on-demand sessions. I particularly liked the poster section being virtual since it was a lot easier to look them over at my leisure instead of having to rush through them. On the negative side, of course, was not being able to see all my friends in person! Also, not being able to visit the vendors and look at their equipment in person was not as effective.

Q: Was there any particular standout about the meeting format this year?

A: The live sessions were very good overall, and I liked them the best.

Q: In terms of surgical and/or business prowess, what was most meaningful for you in this year’s program?

A: The panels on facial reanimation and facial rejuvenation were particularly interesting and well done.

Q: Will there continue to be a place for virtual meetings once we reintroduce live meetings?

A: Yes! I think we will want to continue parts of the virtual format for future meetings. In particular, the on-demand and poster sessions would be areas that could do very well, in my opinion.

Michael Somenek, MD

2020 AAFPRS Annual Meeting Co-Chair

Q: What was the virtual meeting experience like for you? Did it meet expectations? 

A: The virtual meeting experience was actually quite amazing! We had a robust turnout of attendees and speakers who contributed a broad range of topics for everyone to view. Given the circumstances and short time frame we had to compile a virtual program, I think it couldn’t have turned out better.  

Q: What were the pros compared with a live event? Cons?

A: I think the attendees saw several advantages to this format. We had an array of LIVE and ON-DEMAND talks and panels that were given so it provided a lot of flexibility for those to tune in or watch when it was convenient. With this format, I think the attendees were able to view much more content because they weren’t constantly struggling with multiple talks going on at the same time. If they liked a lecture, they could view it multiple times to better understand the pearls and techniques that were being shared. It also allowed people to stay in their practices with minimal disruption to their schedules. The cons of this were that there is always something to be said about in-person meetings and networking with colleagues and members in the industry. 

Q: Was there any particular standout about the meeting format this year?

A: The panel discussions on various topics of practice management and the surgical platforms were very well received with quality questions from those that were viewing the panel “live.” 

Q: In terms of surgical and/or business prowess, what was most meaningful for you in this year’s program?

A: I was in charge of the practice management track and watched many of these talks. Needless to say, there is always something to learn regarding the business side of my practice and this year was no exception. Participating in the panels and seeing the smiling faces of some of my colleagues was also meaningful because it was a reminder of the strong relationships that we have with each other! 

 Q: Will there continue to be a place for virtual meetings once we reintroduce live meetings?

A: It is a very interesting question. I think there are certainly components to the virtual meeting that we may carry into future live meetings. In particular, the on-demand sessions are very attractive to attendees that may want to view a lecture a second time that they viewed at a live meeting. It is almost an added value for those that take time out of their busy schedules to attend the live meetings. 

Next: Embracing the Benefits of Virtual Meetings