This past Digestive Disease Week, held in San Diego, was the first DDW meeting held after the pandemic. We all awaited its arrival with a great deal of anticipation. One to be held in person, as well as virtual for those who could not attend. Little did we know that a major storm would affect the East Coast, interrupting and canceling flights, both domestically and internationally.
Several speakers could not be present for the meeting, and many could not present their posters during the scientific poster sessions. Those in attendance felt their absences. Despite that, the conference continued successfully, and other speakers took the place of the absentees. These sudden reassignments were a formidable effort considering the little to no time to prepare the topic, but that was a testament to the readiness of all speakers to help and reveal their expertise on a multitude of subjects.
Most attendees did not wear a mask, myself included, but there were those who did. Hugs and handshakes prevailed. A sense of relief could be felt across the conference. We were finally together in a meeting.
Medical conferences are a very important part of life for national and international doctors and members of industry. Results of research, new techniques and developments, new equipment and accessories are shown, and plans for collaboration are exchanged.
There also was the inauguration of the Foundation for Interventional and Therapeutic Endoscopy (FITE). Through collaboration among multiple endoscopists and industry professionals, FITE was formed to “advance health care outcomes by enhancing the field of interventional and therapeutic endoscopy to provide cost-effective, safe, and minimally invasive procedures.” Interventional endoscopy is a growing field, but it lacks a direct spearheading entity.
The value and interest in such were represented by a packed room where the inauguration took place.
All in all, DDW moved ahead as planned. Virtual conferences may have kept us going through the pandemic and certainly have increased the number of meetings due to their simpler requirements, they have a very different preparation and mindset for those involved. There is no comparison to the physical meeting: all senses are alive, including the warmth of a handshake, the look in the eyes of gratitude and friendship and hope. Nothing else can take place for that.
I learned much in this meeting. I learned much about what the industry has to offer. I learned much about data presented during oral and poster presentations. But I learned most by directing interaction with peers and colleagues. DDW is like a big family meeting. It was great to be back with the family.
Dr. Raijman is employed by Texas Digestive Disease Consultants and the GI Alliance. He has received consulting fees from Boston Scientific Corporation, EndoRx, EndoSound, Novascan, ConMed, MicroTech, Pentax, Medtronic, Olympus, and GI Alliance.
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