SECTION AND SPECIALTY MEETINGS Society of Academic Urologists Hybrid Meeting a Success Despite COVID Challenges!

By: James A. Brown, MD | Posted on: 01 Apr 2022

I begin this article on January 29 from the Crystal C ballroom at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld Hotel wearing a KN95 mask. I am surrounded by a few dozen attendees who have braved the Omicron surge in the COVID pandemic. Somehow after nearly 2 years this is no longer foreign. A month ago, thanks to the hard work of Monica Bertz and Heather Swanson of WJ Weiser & Associates, the Society of Academic Urologists (SAU) board pivoted to make this a hybrid meeting. Overall, there were 194 registrants, 79 live and 115 virtual. The meeting went off without a hitch. I am happy to report it was a success.

The meeting was organized and chaired by Tom Jarrett (Chair, George Washington University) and Jill Buckley (Program Director, UC San Diego). They kicked it off Friday morning, January 28 with a session on resident education. Lindsay Hampton of UCSF, in her presentation How Do Residents Learn Today in 2022, and Sarah Kryzastek and Tyler Roseman (Virginia Commonwealth University), in their lecture Are We Effective Teachers or Stuck in the Past?, informed us of our generational differences and of the optimal approach for educating millennials and Generation Z residents. Their take-home messages were that we need personalized education, interactive hands-on training and real-time adaptive feedback.

Boyd Viers of the Mayo Clinic, Kate Kraft of Michigan and Brett Johnson of UT Southwestern then discussed surgical education outside the operating room, the optimal role of a fellow in resident education and the impact of the use of an Advanced Practice Provider as a bedside assistant. They reminded us that we should use the flipped classroom and move toward virtual reality robotic surgery simulation.

The next round of lectures covered helping faculty give feedback (Daniel Lin, University of Washington, and Humphrey Atiemo, Henry Ford Hospital) and the resources necessary for struggling residents (Daniel Stein, George Washington University) as well as addressing challenging resident dilemmas (Una Lee, Virginia Mason, and Christopher Warlick, University of Minnesota). The bottom line is that we should seek out available resources in these situations. Next, Elspeth McDougall brought us her retirement perspective on how residents learn. This was followed by a panel discussing the Past, Present and Future of Urologic Education (fig. 1). Next came Dave Penson’s (Vanderbilt University) overview of a current SAU initiative for standardizing the medical student away rotation invitation process.

Figure 1. SAU Panel discussing the Past, Present and Future of Urologic Education.

Friday afternoon provided teaching on what it takes to be a highly successful program director (Ganesh Palapattu, University Michigan), keeping your faculty involved in resident education (Cheryl Lee, Ohio State University), building the next generation of leaders (Ann Gormley, Dartmouth) and the value of protected research time (Edward Schaeffer, Northwestern University).

The big fun of the afternoon was a spirited debate between Marisa Clifton (Johns Hopkins University) and Wes Mayer (Baylor College of Medicine) on whether we are too hard or too soft on residents. Both made compelling arguments. It was a draw. Their debate was followed by Kristen Scarpato’s (Vanderbilt University) talk on how to inspire our residents to work hard and live well. The punchline was that we should all lead by example. Gina Badalato (Columbia University) concluded the session with her New York perspective on what, beyond the milestones, determines a well-trained resident.

The remainder of Friday was dedicated to updates from leaders of the SAU, ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education) Review and Recognition Committee, ACURe (Association of Coordinators for Urologic Residency Education), Society of Women in Urology, the R. Frank Jones Urological Society and the AUA Offices of Education, and Science and Quality. The day was capped with a festive welcome reception.

Saturday morning was organized into a series of group discussions. These were led by leaders of the SAU’s 4 current task forces (Kate Kraft, Heidi Stephany of UC Irvine Medical Center, Wesley Mayer, Patrick Shenot of Thomas Jefferson University, Gina Badalato, Elizabeth Takacs of the University of Iowa and Moben Mirza of Kansas University): Incorporation of Best Practices in Avoidance of Bias & Discrimination in Resident Recruitment & Training, Assessing Residency Applications in the Post-USMLE Step 1 Score Era, Optimizing the Applicant Experience in the Virtual Interview Era, and Resident Mental Well-Being and Suicide Prevention. The attendees shared germane thoughts and learned of the importance and challenges of each.

Figure 2. Willie Underwood (Buffalo, New York; right) discussing how to address racial disparities in urology residences.

Saturday afternoon was kicked off by Willie Underwood (Buffalo, New York) and his moving lecture on addressing racial disparities in urology residencies (fig. 2) and Eila Skinner’s (Stanford University) address on female leadership in urology. Their talks led into a Young Urologists panel on What is Missing in Urology Training? (Heather Chalfin of the National Cancer Institute, Jessica Lange of Chattanooga, Tennessee and Sunil Patel of Johns Hopkins University). Justin Ziemba (University of Pennsylvania) advised us to be proactive and to ask, “What are we doing to mitigate harm?” in his talk about fostering participatory and experiential patient safety learning. This was followed by Simon Kim’s (University of Colorado) advice on training residents well while being productivity driven. Sarah McAchran (University of Wisconsin) wrapped up the midafternoon with her talk on well-being and burnout.

The meeting was concluded with members of the SAU executive committee (Simone Thavaseelan, Kirsten Greene, Lee Richstone, Raj Pruthi and Moben Mirza) discussing the recent changes in urology: preference signaling, resident interview flush day, the new ACGME Program Director Patient Safety and Quality (PDPQ) Educators Program, the SAU 2021 Benchmark Survey on Compensation and Productivity, and an SAU surveys update.

Those of us attending in person headed to the airport Saturday night or Sunday morning. We all flew home, including me to Iowa City, where I now complete this article and look across a backyard covered in snow. My biggest take-away from this year’s Orlando SAU winter meeting, after the past 2 meetings held virtually, was the joy of seeing so many of you in person after nearly 2 years apart. I look forward to seeing the rest of you in person in New Orleans on May 12!

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