VAM 2021 structural changes prove hit with attendees

Left to right: Ali AbuRahma, Ronald L. Dalman and Kim Hodgson

It was an epic return: nearly 700 abstracts presented in six plenaries and several other forums; six concurrent sessions; six SVS breakfast sessions; three postgraduate courses; six “Ask the Experts” presentations; more than 1,000 in-person professional attendees; nearly 400 livestreaming registrants; 88 exhibitors in 154 booths; three presidents; two presidential addresses; and three annual meetings held in collaboration with each other.

That’s the 2021 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) by some of the numbers. But mere math can’t convey the contagious enthusiasm of participants who had waited more than two years for the chance to reconnect with colleagues and participate in education, networking and fun.

“People were extremely excited to be in-person again,” said Andres Schanzer, MD, co-chair, with Matthew Eagleton, MD, of the SVS Program Committee, which oversees educational content at VAM—Schanzer chairs the committee for 2021–22. “I can’t tell you how many people stopped one of us to tell us how happy they were to be there.”

This year’s meeting featured several important structural changes designed to minimize overlapping sessions and maximize the attendee experience. They included moving several sessions formerly held on Thursday to Wednesday, holding the three postgraduate courses on three different days, scheduling plenary sessions without conflicts, and offering a livestreaming option for those unable to travel.

Member reactions have proved the changes quite popular, said Schanzer. “Our at-home registrants really liked being able to watch the livestreamed sessions via their computers,” he said, adding that those watching remotely especially enjoyed being able to participate in live questions and answers via Zoom.

Spreading the educational content out across all four days was also a hit, with each day of the meeting well-attended. “People told us repeatedly they really liked the structural changes, which was gratifying since it was a big change, and they were also very pleased with the educational content,” said Eagleton.

Because the 2021 meeting was moved from June to August, preparations are well under way for 2022. Both Eagleton and Schanzer urged attendees to provide their feedback on VAM 2021. “The changes we made for this year were the direct result of feedback from members,” Eagleton pointed out. “We can’t create the meeting members want without them telling us what would improve VAM.”

The presence of three presidents—current President Ali AbuRahma, MD, Immediate Past President Ronald L. Dalman, MD, and 2019–20 President Kim Hodgson, MD—reflected the transition of the SVS out from under the pandemic, adding extra energy to the meeting.

And then there is the all-important number 75: SVS leaders kicked off the year-long SVS 75th anniversary celebrations.

“The staff of the SVS is truly honored to serve our members and really went above and beyond to convene a successful, effective and safe VAM 2021,” noted Kenneth M. Slaw, PhD, SVS executive director. “The synergy between our member-leaders and staff was extraordinary.”

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