The Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) officially made its in-person comeback this morning (Wednesday, Aug. 18) in San Diego. Society for Vascular Surgery (SVS) Immediate Past Presidents Ronald L. Dalman, MD, and Kim Hodgson, MD, marked the return to a live VAM with retrospectives on the challenges they both faced as SVS leader in the period marked by COVID-19 and visions into the future of the specialty.
Dalman opening proceedings by welcoming back attendees during the VAM 2021 Opening Ceremony, acknowledging the work of Hodgson, his predecessor as SVS president, on the work he carried out during the early months of the pandemic, and the decision to cancel VAM 2020 and pivot to a digital replacement, SVS ONLINE.
“This meeting marks the dawn of a new era of learning combining streaming with in-person learning to a worldwide audience, offering discussions on critical issues like diversity, equity and inclusion, and exploring new advances and novel ideas for practice,” Dalman told attendees.
VAM 2021 also marks the beginning of the 75th anniversary celebrations of the SVS, which Dalman officially introduced by screening a video charting the three-quarter century of progress made by the Society.
“To achieve this milestone at such a pivotal moment in history is an excellent opportunity to honor both the many innovations that have defined our specialty while simultaneously keeping our eyes on the future as we advance the science in our field,” Dalman said. “The challenges that we face will continue to evolve. Given all that we have accomplished since 1946, I’m confident we are up for whatever comes next.”
In his welcome to attendees, Hodgson captured the pandemic experience of many with his opening line: “This is certainly an improvement over staring into my webcam to open SVS ONLINE last year and update everyone of the State of the SVS. It’s great to be able to look out and see an actual audience.”
Leading the SVS during the pandemic had been a “profound experience,” Hodgson told attendees. He highlighted the initiative he led to start the SVS Town Hall series, which was initially intended as a medium to help steer members through the ravages of the pandemic but has since “evolved into an opportunity for education on a wide variety of topics,” he said.
“And despite COVID’s challenges,” Hodgson continued, “we were able to fulfill my desire to give all of our members a voice in their leadership by passing bylaw amendments that allowed all SVS members, whether present at VAM or at home caring for patients, to vote virtually for their officers and give them the choice of candidate to consider.”
Matthew Eagleton, MD, and Andres Schanzer, MD, Program Committee co-chairs, also welcomed attendees to VAM, with Eagleton jokingly adding his thanks for “not having to hit the ‘unmute’ button.” The pandemic forced leaders to innovate this year, resulting in the livestreaming of 17 sessions, including the Opening Ceremony.
Schanzer, chair of the committee for next year’s VAM, reminded attendees of the importance of feedback and urged attendees to continue to offer suggestions and criticisms this year. This year’s VAM includes several changes as a result of member suggestions, including moving several sessions from Thursday to Wednesday, streaming options, reducing the number of overlapping sessions, continuation of the popular “Ask the Experts” series and spreading educational content planned by the Postgraduate Education Committee throughout all four meeting days.
And Schanzer urged attendees to “take advantage of the education, and of networking. Soak it all in,” he said. “Enjoy your time together.”