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Back to Reality? From Virtual to In-Person at ENDO 2022

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It was refreshing to attend an in-person medical conference for the first time since the pandemic began. ENDO 2022 was held June 11–14 in Atlanta and did not disappoint. Known for varied sessions from basic science to clinical, case-based presentations, and Meet the Professor sessions, the annual Endocrine Society meeting is one of the best and largest endocrine meetings in the US. Without proper planning and goal-setting, meetings like this can be overwhelming. 

Part of prepping for a successful conference is determining how to gain the most out of your meeting experience. In academia, planning for a conference often starts months before the meeting during the creation of abstracts and presentations. Most of us from various practice settings attend to gather knowledge to apply to our daily practices. Some conferences focus on networking, others on education, and others still focus on a particular task (like reviewing for a board examination, for example). As an endocrinologist who practices in a cancer center, I desire to attend meetings to support and enlighten my practice and network with experts in specific areas. I also use the conference to keep abreast of general endocrine disorders knowledge.

Much of my practice dedicates itself to caring for patients with adrenal and pituitary neoplasms. Since I attend other meetings with a thyroid focus, I opted to focus on adrenal and pituitary topics at ENDO 2022. I heard from experts who care for patients with rare diseases, such as hyperaldosteronism, pheochromocytoma/paraganglioma, adrenal cancer, acromegaly, nonfunctioning pituitary tumors, and Cushing’s syndrome. Due to the abundance of newer medications to treat Cushing’s disease in particular, multiple sessions dedicated to treating patients with Cushing’s were available.

Attending and networking at my first A5 (American-Australian-Asian Adrenal Alliance) meeting representing my institution was also an important stop for me. This group (46 institutions and growing) focuses on rare diseases of the adrenal, on the premise that strength in numbers is critical for improved understanding and treatment of these rare entities. I hope this group will lead development of novel therapies which improve care, particularly for patients with adrenocortical carcinoma and metastatic pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma. Already, this group has been able to collaborate to obtain grant funding to reach this aim.

Regrouping with colleagues and friends is a big part of any meeting, as is networking for career interests. Seeing my previous mentors from my training institution remains a treat for me — even 16 years after my fellowship. I was even able to attend a baseball game with one of them. I’m not sorry that I missed the burnout and resiliency session to prevent my burnout by going to the game! Taking care of ourselves, our families, and our relationships is crucial for our sustainability in medicine.

Although I missed the social media group gatherings associated with my profession, I’m also grateful for those virtual relationships. The Endocrine Society special interest groups are also active through the Endocrine Society website and remain a source of information-sharing and gathering. There was so much to see and take in that I am glad to be able to access the on-demand portions of the meeting from home to catch what I missed, such as sessions dedicated to gender-affirming healthcare and eliminating health disparities for all. I am excited for the next Endocrine Society Meeting — ENDO 2023 in Chicago, IL.

Dr. Hallanger Johnson is employed by the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute and is a consultant for HRA Pharma.

Animation by Diana Connolly

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