2012 AANS Annual Report - page 14

14
2012 AANS ANNUAL REPORT
Redefining Programing:
Building an Interactive Experience
Carl B. Heilman, MD, FAANS
Those who experienced the 80th AANS Annual Scientific Meeting saw
first-hand the fruits of labor put forth by Carl B. Heilman, MD, FAANS,
who chaired the 2012 edition — that’s after heading up the Scientific
Program Subcommittee in 2011, and serving as Program Evaluation
Chair and Scientific Poster Chair 2010 and 2009, respectively — as
part of a four-year commitment to the recurring event.
The Annual Scientific Meeting is “one of the most important things
that the AANS does,” Dr. Heilman said. “It’s where people share their
science and discoveries, and learn new techniques.”
No wonder neurosurgeons of various subspecialties come together
once a year for the interactive gathering.
“I certainly think you have a lot to learn from your colleagues,
particularly those who practice a slightly different field as your
own,” Dr. Heilman asserted. “The spine expert can teach the cranial
expert something. The cranial expert can teach the aneurysm expert
something… Plus, there are many issues that face all of us — coding,
call schedules, reimbursement, advances in imaging …”
Through education and the promotion of “good science,” the AANS is
redefining the specialty of neurosurgery, including “the treatments
that are the most effective and least invasive, and provide patients
with the best outcomes,” Dr. Heilman said.
After all, he noted, “The whole specialty is evolving, and I’m sure
we’ll continue to see it evolve. We are seeing tremendous strides, in
radiation, endovascular techniques, surgery… we’re still looking for
cures for malignant gliomas. It’s a gradual evolution.”
To that end, the Scientific Program Committee strives to build the
best educational sessions it can.
The main function of the committee, Dr. Heilman explained, “is to look
at the scientific abstracts that are submitted, and help prioritize which
ones were performed in the most rigorous scientific fashion, are of the
most interest to members and should be presented at the meeting.”
The group also organizes practical courses and assigns faculty.
Just how are session topics selected? Although the theme — this
year’s was “We Are Neurosurgery” — plays a role, according to Dr.
Heilman, the committee also looks at “what treatments or surgical
therapies are at the cutting edge and what techniques have emerged
or evolved” that can be put into practice.
Speaking of cutting-edge technologies, there have been many benefits
to the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting going paperless.
“No. 1, it allows the meeting information and platform to continue to
live on after the meeting is over,” Dr. Heilman said, which is helpful
moving forward, as it provides “more advanced ability to interact with
speakers and to comment on research that’s published for people
who weren’t present at the meeting to get involved in the science of
the meeting.”
As such, the AANS Annual Scientific Meeting becomes “a continuous,
living experience that builds onto the following year,” turning
“what used to be a one-time, 20-minute presentation into a lasting
interaction, with interplay and exchange with scientists,” he explained.
“To me, this is going to be huge in the future.”
As for this year’s heavily attended 3-D sessions, Dr. Heilman said, “I
think everyone is hungry to learn new surgical techniques from people
who are considered masters or the best. To have 3-D video of actual
surgeries allows you to see how our best colleagues perform various
techniques — and since that’s really what we do, every day, day in and
day out, it’s crucially important to members.”
Although he is not participating in the planning of the 81st AANS
Annual Scientific Meeting, Dr. Heilman will no doubt attend and take
part in courses — but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t actively involved
in his specialty. “Right now, I’m president of the North American Skull
Base Society,” he noted, “so that keeps me pretty busy.”
Dr. Heilman is chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at Tufts
Medical Center and Tufts University School of Medicine. He graduated
from Allegheny College in 1982 and earned his MD degree from the
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 1986. He completed
his neurosurgery residency at Tufts Medical Center, where he was chief
resident in 1993, before performing a skull base surgery fellowship at
the University of Tennessee and the Semmes-Murphy Clinic.
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