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Rheum with a View: My #ACR20 Virtual Experience

Nov 12, 2020 6:35 am

Rheumatology conference season always gets me excited because it means learning new information from experts, being updated on what’s hot in the field of research, networking with colleagues and travelling. But that was before the COVID19 pandemic hit and turned our world upside down. In a short span of time, educational meetings and conventions shifted to online platforms and virtual learning became the norm. This year, the ACR 2020 Convergence is no different. As Dr. Swamy Venuturupalli, Chair of the ACR Committee on Education put it, “We reimagined the whole process of what a convergence would look like virtually and this is what we came up with….and the big deciding factor was that it allows for a lot of online engagement and discussions in real time and also leverages platforms that are already out there.”

Coming from a place almost half a world away from the US, the prospect of a fully virtual meeting was very appealing. That meant attending from the comfort and safety of my own home, listening in and watching live sessions and getting back to missed ones at my own convenience. Perhaps equally exciting is that fact that I got to be involved with RheumNow this year. This last bit definitely brought my #ACR20 experience to a whole new level. Never mind the timezones and deadlines, I had fun! Tweets, news articles, video reports, interviews and panel discussions: all types of media utilized to deliver fresh information and updates. And of course, the dedicated and wonderful team whom I deeply enjoyed working with. 

The meeting platform didn’t disappoint either. In fact, it was brilliant! Despite the personal connections that only face-to-face meetings allow (and I’m sure we all sorely miss), this meeting opened up a whole new dimension of learning and networking possibilities. The overall planning committee really did a great job given the present circumstances and barriers but rising above the challenges. 

As #ACR20 wraps up and we go back to our daily lives – clinical practice, medical education, research or family – let us be inspired by the words of ACR President Dr. Ellen Gravallese, “The artificial silos of medical subspecialties and departments ultimately needs to breakdown and we should consider a new structure of medical care focused on disease mechanisms rather than clinging to our traditional organ-based thinking”.   


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