It is time once again for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) Annual Meeting, when over 13,000 ophthalmologists and another 12,000 others gather from around the world to discuss all things ophthalmology, including new research, treatments, and technology. For the first time in the past several years, I will unfortunately not be at AAO 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada, as I will be taking call in order to care for those with eye emergencies referred to our university hospital while many local ophthalmologists are away at the meeting. I wish I could be at AAO 2015, but am happy to “take my turn” covering call for my ophthalmology colleagues.
Here’s an interesting statistic for you to understand the affect that the AAO Annual Meeting has on the number of ophthalmologists available to treat patients during the five days of the meeting. A 2010 study indicated that at that time there were 18,805 ophthalmologists in the United States. Of those, according to official attendance records, 8,553, or 45 percent of all US ophthalmologists were in attendance at the 2010 AAO meeting in Chicago.
This year, I will be among the 55% of US ophthalmologists who are NOT in attendance at the annual meeting. I have come to sort of anticipate and look forward to the meeting every Fall, and it seems bizarre to not be at the meeting catching up with friends and colleagues from around the world and learning from the leaders in ophthalmology. Fortunately, however, the AAO has created many ways for the 55% of us not able to be in Vegas to still participate in the meeting.
Below is my guide on “How to AAO if you are unable to go.” Keep in mind that ALL of the resources listed below are 100% free to all AAO members, and do not require taking time off from clinic or the operating room, traveling to and from Vegas, nor do these tips subject you to the risk of losing thousands of dollars on Las Vegas slot machines.
1 – AAO 2015 Twitter Feed
At last year’s meeting, a total of 1,067 Twitter users published 4,539 tweets using the #AAO2014 hashtag during the five days of the 2014 AAO Annual Meeting. The live twitter feed represents what one study has termed the “meeting behind the meeting,” and is a tool by which those present at the meeting are able to share the meeting highlights in short, <140 character tweets with anyone following the hashtag #AAO2015 online. For those interested in the meeting content that is particularly relevant to residents and young ophthalmologists, consider not only following the #AAO2015 hashtag, but also follow #AAOYO, the official hashtag of the AAO Young Ophthalmologist committee.
2 – Virtual Meeting
The AAO Virtual Meeting gives members access to 20 hours of content streamed live from the meeting. If you are going to tune in to any session in particular, be sure to watch Sunday’s Opening Session which will feature talks by the AAO leadership, providing insight into their initiatives and the future of our field. Checkout the full Virtual Meeting schedule here.
3 – Videos on Demand (available via the Mobile Meeting Guide)
I am not completely certain as to how this will work, but it appears as though on Saturday, viewers will be able to watch videos which have been submitted for online publication and viewing at the meeting. 59 videos are currently scheduled to be available online spanning nearly all ophthalmology subspecialties and even videos related to global ophthalmology.
4 – Download lecture slides and handouts (via Mobile Meeting Guide)
Do you ever feel like sitting in a lecture is NOT the most efficient use of your time? If so, you will love this tip for making the most of AAO without being physically at the meeting. The AAO Mobile Meeting Guide, which is available to all AAO members whether or not registered for the meeting, gives you FREE access to download the course handouts, and in many cases, the PDF of the slides for individual sessions. I just now downloaded dozens of handouts for courses I would have liked to attend if I were present, and it seems as though about 50% of courses have downloadable handouts. The highest yield method to filter for those courses with handouts seems to be filtering the search field by “ticketed events.” (yes, this is free, free, free!)
5 – Search poster abstracts, presenters, categories (via Mobile Meeting Guide)
Would you prefer to simply search for any/all posters by keyword that relate to your focused area of interest? If so, you are in luck. The program search and poster viewing tool within the Mobile Meeting Guide allows you to search by keyword, author, subspecialty, or date to quickly browse posters abstracts, many of which will be available for full PDF download throughout the meeting.
As you can see, many resources are available to AAO members interested in participating “virtually” in the meeting by following the live Twitter feed, watching live sessions via Virtual Meeting, watching Videos on Demand, downloading educational content, or searching for keywords included in poster abstracts. I suppose that being on call during AAO 2015 won’t be all that bad, as the AAO has gone to great lengths to be sure that ‘what happens in Vegas does NOT stay in Vegas,’ but can be viewed by an ophthalmology audience worldwide.'How To AAO If You Are Unable To Go', five tips on virtually attending #AAO2015 via @eyesteve Click To Tweet Five #AAO2015 tips that ensure 'what happens in Vegas...doesn't stay in Vegas' via @eyesteve Click To Tweet
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