AAGL20 Virtual Congress: The Resiliency of MIGS
The 2020 AAGL Virtual Global Congress was an unprecedented, historical event and a tremendous success. Never in the history of the AAGL, have we held an entirely virtual meeting. The very appropriate theme of this year’s Congress was “Breaking Barriers.” The necessity to transition to a virtual Congress due to the COVID-19 pandemic required a great deal of adjustment, creativity, and the learning of new technological skill sets. It was extremely satisfying to break through the many barriers presented and produce a positive, highly informative experience that provided cutting edge best practices in MIGS for over 2,400 attendees from 90 countries worldwide.
This year, our numbers speak volumes. Despite so many challenges, we had 455 more attendees than last year! The virtual format of this Congress allowed for physicians to attend who would otherwise have been limited by financial or scheduling restraints. This truly taught us the value of a virtual experience and though we were forced to adapt to this type of technology quickly, we learned skills that will benefit us in years to come.
In addition, the content of our Congress was so engaging that as a group we consumed over 900,000 minutes in 180+ zoom sessions! We produced over 95 Scientific Education Sessions and provided 95+ AMA PRA Category 1 credit hours. This year we also introduced an unprecedented, record-breaking, 18 live surgeries streamed in high definition. These live surgeries were extremely popular and drew large numbers of attendees.
Our 19 Post Graduate Courses were a great success with highly impactful, pre-recorded training followed by a live-stream discussion during Congress. This new format created an effective learning strategy for assimilating large amounts of information and made great use of conference sessions.
We also produced three technologically stunning, live-streamed General Sessions. General Session, I gave us a powerful and timely Presidential Address by Dr. Jubilee Brown about blooming in the face of adversity. We also enjoyed an address by our Honorary Chair, Dr. Resad P. Pasic regarding the evolution of minimally invasive surgery and a Surgical Keynote Presentation on Clinical Applications of Pelvic Neuroanatomy by Dr. Nucelio Lemos. General Session II welcomed acclaimed researcher Dr. Carla Pugh who gave this year’s innovative Keynote Address entitled “What Is Your Haptic Score? That’s What Matters in the Operating Room.” Dr. Cara Robinson King then helped us to explore the mental aspect of surgery through her address, “Pushing the Surgical Envelope from Dream to Reality.” General Session III entertained us all as competitors engaged in the Battle of the Generations, Mentor vs Mentee. Each General Session was well attended and visually stunning.
This year we received 600 abstract submissions! Of those abstracts, the best of the best were recognized through Signature Awards presented during the inspiring Foundation of the AAGL Awards Ceremonies. During General Session I, we recognized the impact of mentorship when we honored the 2020 John F. Steege Mentorship Award Winner, Dr. Keith Isaacson. In General Session II we celebrated our 2020 Signature Award Winners and were pleased to hear each winner respond to their award and present their papers live-streamed.
The method for presenting each section of the program was entirely new this year, but thanks to the tremendous work of our AAGL staff and support teams, we pulled it off with gusto! The 2020 FMIGS Graduates were recognized in a touching virtual graduation ceremony celebrating their accomplishments. We successfully held our first ever online, interactive Partners Lounge/Virtual Exhibits and Product Theater presentations that connected attendees with the latest innovations in medical devices and technology. Social networking and self-care were promoted through engaging networking and wellness events including live-streamed Yoga, Guided Meditation, FMIGS Virtual Reception, online Wrap Party, DJ Henry Invisible, Dance Cams, and the Virtual Photo Booth. We also had much more social media engagement this year which gave a fantastic representation of our Congress and connected members through our hashtag #AAGL20.
The reach of this meeting continues to extend long past the final session. Presently, new meeting attendees continue to register to watch the Video on Demand and obtain CME hours. Video on Demand services are available for all meeting attendees through April 1, 2021, to allow you to finish up on CME credits, re-watch a favorite session, or catch any of the exceptional scientific programming that you may have missed. Translation and subtitles are available on most recorded content. Attendees must log in to view recordings or new guests can register here for full access.
It was an honor to chair this year’s remarkable, historic meeting. Though we were apart physically, the amount of engagement and interaction that we experienced through this Congress, brought us closer together. I wish to thank the Scientific Program Committee, faculty, presenters, and staff who gave so much to make this meeting successful. I also thank each of you for attending and actively engaging in this experience. I am very proud of what we all accomplished together. The 2020 Virtual Global Congress will go down in AAGL history as evidence of our resiliency and our fierce determination to elevate gynecologic surgery.