Bonnie An Henderson, MD, previews the EnVision Summit 2024, scheduled for February 16 to 19 in Puerto Rico, highlighting its family friendly atmosphere, diverse specialty coverage, and new sessions on leadership and health equity.
Bonnie An Henderson, MD, sat down with Ophthalmology Times' Group Editorial Director Sheryl Stevenson to chat about the upcoming EnVision Summit 2024, set to take place February 16 to 19, 2024, in Puerto Rico.
Editor's note - This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Sheryl Stevenson: We're joined today by Dr. Bonnie An Henderson, who is one of the cofounders of the EnVision Summit being held in Puerto Rico on Presidents Day weekend during February. Welcome to you! Really delighted to learn more about the programming this year, especially the ophthalmology track and to also learn what's new for this year's conference.
Bonnie An Henderson, MD: Thank you very much, Sheryl. Thank you for having me speak about EnVision Summit. EnVision is a meeting that's near and dear to my heart so it's a pleasure to be here. As you just said, the Envision Summit is a CME, multispecialty ophthalmology conference. It's held in February every year. It's over Presidents Day weekend. It's a nice long weekend, so people can get there and get back. And we hold it in Puerto Rico because it's a US territory, it's nice and warm, and it's lovely there.
So I just wanted to really share what the differences are about EnVision Summit with other meetings. I know there's nowadays I think there's an ophthalmology meeting almost every weekend. So if you'd want to attend an ophthalmology meeting, there are many to choose from.
I think what's really unique about EnVision Summit, if you're not aware of the conference, is that it's a really wonderful, casual, family-friendly environment. And what I mean by that is that people bring their families, but the families are also involved in the program. So they're not stashed away in the hotel room, while the physician attends the conference. All the meals, the breaks, and even the actual lecture sessions are totally open to the family. So oftentimes, you'll see their kids in the lecture hall listening and they see their mom giving a lecture on the podium. So it's really great to show how to be a role model and it's really inspiring for the children to be able to see their parents give a talk and know what ophthalmology is all about. So I think it's really unique in that way. And it's very welcoming to everyone. It's casual. Everyone's in shorts and T shirts but people are also still learning real science.
And that's the thing that's different about our meeting is that it's not about work-life balance. It's not about issues that are social, which are all important. But it's really about...it's hard core science. It's clinical work. It's discussions about surgical techniques. It's a real meeting, but it just so happens to be in a very family-friendly environment. So I think that's what's really unique about EnVision Summit. And the fact that people can come there, interface with industry professionals in a very casual way, too. I think it's really conducive to learning about what clinical trials are available, learning how to do research, and some people really want to know how to work with industry, they want to become someone who actually learns about their products and can perform clinical work with them. So it's a great environment to learn how to work with other parts of ophthalmology besides just the medical part.
Stevenson: Sure, absolutely. So tell us a little bit about the ophthalmology track and then also some of the other aspects of the programming.
Henderson: It's a four-day conference and we hit every specialty. We have pediatrics, neuro-ophthalmology, uveitis, we have retina, glaucoma, cornea, cataract, refractive surgery. So we have all the different specialties. What I love about those types of meetings is that as an ophthalmologist, oftentimes you practice one subspecialty. So if you're a retina surgeon, you basically go to retina meetings, you do retina work, and you never hear about glaucoma. So you may [hear] people say, what's this MIGS thing, so if you don't practice glaucoma, you may not know what the new and exciting things are. Conversely, if you're a pediatric ophthalmologist, you may not know what's going on in the oculoplastics space. It's really a wonderful way to have all that different type of information all in one place, and you don't have to run around a huge convention center. I think that's a very nice, tantalizing part of EnVision Summit is to be able to get a well-rounded education in one location.
Also, I wanted to highlight this year, we have a couple of very new offerings. Dr Malvina Eydelman [Director, Office of Health Technology 1 (OHT 1: Ophthalmic, Anesthesia, Respiratory, ENT and Dental Devices) Office of Product Evaluation and Quality CDRH/FDA]. She has put together a really special leadership session on Friday morning. And it's open to everybody. She really talks about how to be a leader and how to break that glass ceiling. She's brought in lots of different speakers from ophthalmology and industry to really talk about their experience about how to rise in their institution, and how to become a leader and the lessons they've learned. So I think that's really exciting for this year.
The second session that I wanted to highlight that's new this year is there's a special session on Saturday afternoon that's focusing on advancing health equity. This is a session that's being cosponsored by the American Academy of Ophthalmology (the AAO), as well as AUPO (which is the Association of University Professors of Ophthalmology). It's being led by Dr Mildred Olivier, [Dr] Leslie Jones, and also Dr Malvina Eydelman. The three of them have really put together an incredible session that focuses on making sure that our patients are having the appropriate care and we're not delivering care differently towards different populations.
It's really important when we're actually delivering care that people get the same quality of care, regardless of their zip code, their socioeconomic class, their race, their religion. We want to make sure that people have access to health care equally and fairly across all boundaries. I think it's really important when we talk about health equity to talk about the patient health equity and also the caretaker. We want to make sure that the caretaker represents the diverse populations that they serve.
These are really important topics, which is why a lot of organizations are focusing on health equity. We felt that it's such an important topic that we should bring the organizations together. Let's build a really top-notch program so that we can continue this conversation then in lots of different meetings. So this is really more of a pilot program that we're starting at EnVision Summit that we're hoping to continue at all the other national meetings to continue that conversation. The conversation is ongoing and it changes and there's new information that comes across so we want to implement all the new advances in that field and to be able to update that program every time.
Stevenson: Sounds like some great additions to the programming. Is there anything else to add that you haven't touched upon?
Henderson: Each year, we do have a charitable event and oftentimes it's been focused on either a natural disaster that occurred locally in Puerto Rico. I remember when we had the pull-out from Afghanistan, we had a physician, an Afghani woman who had fled Afghanistan. And she really shared her experience what it's like to be a woman scientist or a woman physician in a Taliban-run country and how stifling it is and share her experience.
This year, we actually are partnering with an organization called Achilles International. It's a nonprofit as well. They actually help athletes with disabilities and they partner with athletes to guide them in certain races. So this year, we have an amazing blind triathlete. His name is Francesco Magisano, and he's incredible. He is blind, and he's able to do Ironman triathlons. What Achilles [International] does is they train sighted guides to run along with him, swim with him, bike with him, so that the athletes with disabilities are able to compete in these types of fun and engaging activities. They work with athletes of all different disabilities. We're focusing on the athletes that happened to have some visual impairment.
Emily Glasser, who is CEO of Achilles International, will be there as well as our keynote speaker, Francesco, and he's going to share with us what it's like to be a visually disabled athlete. I think we're going to have a very interesting conversation. But also they're going to lead a session where we can all learn to be guides for people who are visually disabled.
They're going to run a workshop where we can learn how to be a guide, and hopefully, they'll teach us how to how to run with someone who may have a disability and swim and bike and I think it'll be really, really interesting. We hope that people will donate to the cause...again, it's a nonprofit and you can donate directly to Achilles [International]. We're hoping to really get the awareness out there and support them as well.