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Author Notes:

Correspondence: Inquiries to Kyla Terhune, MD, MBA, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, P.O. Box 330008, Nashville, TN 37203.


Research Funding:

This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.


  • Social Sciences
  • Science & Technology
  • Life Sciences & Biomedicine
  • Education, Scientific Disciplines
  • Surgery
  • Education & Educational Research
  • virtual meeting
  • national meeting
  • web conferencing
  • virtual education
  • program director
  • surgical education

Ad astra per aspera (Through Hardships to the Stars): Lessons Learned from the First National Virtual APDS Meeting, 2020

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Journal Title:

Journal of Surgical Education


Volume 77, Number 6


, Pages 1465-1472

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Objective After COVID-19 rendered in-person meetings for national societies impossible in the spring of 2020, the leadership of the Association of Program Directors in Surgery (APDS) innovated via a virtual format in order to hold its national meeting. Design APDS leadership pre-emptively considered factors that would be important to attendees including cost, value, time, professional commitments, education, sharing of relevant and current information, and networking. Setting The meeting was conducted using a variety of virtual formats including a web portal for entry, pre-ecorded poster and oral presentations on the APDS website, interactive panels via a web conferencing platform, and livestreaming. Participants There were 298 registrants for the national meeting of the APDS, and 59 participants in the New Program Directors Workshop. The registrants and participants comprised medical students, residents, associate program directors, program directors, and others involved in surgical education nationally. Results There was no significant difference detected for high levels of participant satisfaction between 2019 and 2020 for the following items: overall program rating, topics and content meeting stated objectives, relevant content to educational needs, educational format conducive to learning, and agreement that the program will improve competence, performance, communication skills, patient outcomes, or processes of care/healthcare system performance. Conclusions A virtual format for a national society meeting can provide education, engagement, and community, and the lessons learned by the APDS in the process can be used by other societies for utilization and further improvement.

Copyright information:

© 2020 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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