The COVID-19 pandemic has put a serious damper on large indoor gatherings, and nowhere is that truer than for the professional conference.
This year, organizations across the board are opting for virtual events to ensure the safety of all concerned, and the AARC is no different. Instead of the four-day meeting we had planned for Orlando this fall, the AARC is hosting four days of online programming scheduled for Nov. 18 and 20 and Dec. 3 and 5.
“The decision to transition to a virtual meeting was predicated on prioritizing the safety of staff, speakers, vendors, and attendees,” said Program Committee Chair Sarah M. Varekojis, PhD, RRT, RRT-ACCS, FAARC.
The fact that many hospitals might still be battling the worst of the virus in their communities during the time of the meeting and thus couldn’t spare staff to attend a consecutive four day event played a part in the decision as well. Limited travel budgets due to the pandemic were another key concern.
Expectations will be met
The good news is, the 2020 Congress will deliver the same excellent program Congress-goers have come to expect, including a full range of speakers from across the country and around the world who will address the hottest topics in the profession today — including the latest on COVID-19.
All three plenary sessions — the Donald F. Egan Scientific Memorial Lecture, Thomas L. Petty Memorial Lecture, and Phil Kittredge Memorial Lecture — are on the agenda as usual, and the Open Forum will feature a full roster of abstracts.
Individual sessions and symposia will discuss everything from aerosol therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation and the high risk surgical patient.
Two symposia will focus on COVID-19 — “COVID-19 Update on Respiratory Support” on Thursday, Dec. 3, and “Year in Review: COVID-19” on Saturday, Dec. 5. Multiple Open Forum sessions will address topics related to the pandemic as well.
All the bells and whistles
It will all be delivered via a platform constructed especially for meetings like the AARC Congress. “The AARC will use the vConference virtual event platform,” said Associate Executive Director Doug Laher, MBA, CAE, CMP, RRT, FAARC. “It promises attendees a virtual experience similar to that of a live meeting.”
That means a convention lobby, meeting rooms, a virtual exhibit hall, and even a live chat room where attendees can interact with other attendees, just as they would at the traditional Congress. “It’s the virtual meeting of 2020 you’ll not want to miss,” Laher said.
Program Committee Member J. Brady Scott, MSc, RRT, RRT-ACCS, AE-C, FAARC, FCCP, agrees. “Each year we strive for high-quality topics and speakers for AARC Congress. This year, while quite different because of the way the content will be delivered, is no exception. I think AARC Congress attendees will find a wide variety of topics that will meet their educational needs — delivered by true experts in the field.”
Career boosting pivot
Congress LIVE! may not offer experience you typically associate with the AARC Congress, but just as we’ve all adapted to work meetings and family gatherings via Zoom and similar technology, Association leaders are confident AARC members can and will jump into this brave new world of online learning.
Attend this year’s meeting and not only will you impress your employers with the clinical knowledge you gain at the event, you’ll show them that you know how to pivot in this time of national crisis.