Has Education Changed Forever?

THERE HAS BEEN a dramatic shift for the professional to online education since March 2020, seemingly at the onset of COVID-19. The American Vein & Lymphatic Society (AVLS) pivoted to an e-learning platform, delivering agile content thru webinars, livestream courses, and Annual Congress. This deliverable scale of virtual learning has encouraged members to continue their medical education and interaction despite the lockdowns.

AVLS believes its professional community has benefited from high-quality online content. The pandemic has shown how important and adaptable it is for professional societies and associations to maintain their presence among higher learning institutions. AVLS increased its online learning to meet the demand of what historically was a traditional in-person educational activity. Online learning will continue with AVLS to serve a hybrid approach to many of its signature programs: the Venous & Lymphatic Medicine Review, Sclerotherapy, RPhS Review, and of course, Annual Congress. Professional faculty with travel restrictions will continue to learn and participate online despite traditional learning starting up again.

Dr. Steven Elias, Interim Education Program Chair, compares AVLS to the contradictory phrase “The King Is Dead, Long Live The King” that has been uttered since 1422 when the French king Charles VI died, and his son Charles VII took over. Le roi est mort, vive le roi. The words were spoken by the Duc d’Uzes as soon as Charles VI’s coffin was lowered into the ground.

“That’s what AVLS has been doing for years regarding education and learning, always moving forward,” said Dr. Elias. “The old style of only in-person education is dead, but long live the new AVLS style: in-person and digital/remote. So, what does the new “king” offer?”

A new model is the hybrid approach of self-paced programming with interactive two to three-hour livestreaming, which can be completed over several weeks without sacrificing a standard of care patients value. The individualized opportuni- ties to review content allow the professional to fo- cus on the clinical areas which are most valuable.

Ultimately, clinical education will continue to grow and build upon smaller learning communities of specialties. AVLS Venous Classification Workbook is a new e-learning platform where the learner can review and apply a classification system that aids the learner in practicing and providing patient care.

Annual Congress

The COVID-19 pandemic required drastic changes for the AVLS to create a successful Annual Congress in 2020. The entire AVLS 34th Annual Congress shifted to an entirely virtual program allowing the education team to reimagine the Annual Congress experience. Some of these changes improved the Annual Congress experience, and future events will implement these new ideas.

The addition of a livestream is the most signifi- cant of these new changes. While the AVLS hosted the 2020 Annual Congress entirely online, the 2021 Annual Congress will include in-person and live stream attendees.

The goal for Annual Congress will always be an en- gaging in-person event providing unparalleled opportu- nities for networking and engagement with the bright- est minds of venous and lymphatic medicine. Those hallway conversations and coffee break chats cannot be replicated in a virtual setting. However, livestreaming remains essential to our international attendees and those who may have conflicts preventing them from traveling or attending all four days in person.

With a fully livestreamed experience in 2020, the AVLS introduced using the AVLS Events mobile app for attendees to submit questions to speakers during presentations, as the traditionally passed microphone would not work in a virtual setting. With the new hybrid model, using the mobile app in 2021 will allow in-person and live stream attendees to submit questions in real-time, creating engagement for all attendees.

Not only did the AVLS livestream content during 2020, but that recorded content was also made available through the end of the year for attendees to watch on their own time, allowing someone to attend every single session they wanted. With concurrent sessions, attend- ees must choose which session to join. Access to record- ings of the live content makes those choices simpler, knowing that the missed session can be watched later.

In 2021, both in-person and virtual attendees will have the ability to go back and watch recorded con- tent from all four session rooms, effectively tripling the amount of education they can access. The value of this is so significant going forward. It has reframed how the education committees plan Congress, reducing the need for more large general sessions, allowing sessions to start later in the day, and expanding the number of topics covered over the four-day program.

Each year, new ideas shape and build Annual Congress. As disruptive as 2020 felt, the innovation from the 34th Annual Congress created ideas that will continue to evolve for years to come.

Looking Forward

Even before the pandemic, the AVLS pursued immersive education, offering medical professionals the opportunity to stand virtually in the procedure room with experts and patients. The virtual reality technology allows for a 3D, 360-degree experience for the learner. Launched initially with the VR:360 Sclero- therapy Course, the Immersive Education program has continued to grow through the pandemic.

A new VR:360 course, Introduction to Venous Insufficiency, will be debuting soon, as well as a sec- ond edition of the Sclerotherapy Course. New classes for the Immersive Education program are also in production.

Yes, education has changed and is evolving within American Vein & Lymphatic Society. The future offer- ings and possibilities are endless, creative, and focused on building real-world medical education that offers learning and competencies solutions.