President's Message

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Staying at the Forefront of Education

The annual International Conference (IC) of the American Thoracic Society is often described as being “where today’s science meets tomorrow’s patient care.” In the past, we have gathered in person to share recent research, discuss collaborations, and make new connections. This changed over the last nine months, as the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to meet and interact using virtual and online atsnews-juanceledon1.jpgplatforms. Although such changes were foreseeable and ultimately inevitable, COVID-19 has been a great accelerator of change in scientific and medical education.

Since 1905, the ATS has been faithful and true to the words of President John F. Kennedy: “Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.” To best serve the needs of our members and the broad pulmonary, critical care and sleep communities, we recently established a Task Force on Designing Future ATS Conferences (DFAC), which will develop strategic recommendations for the planning and delivery of virtual and in-person educational, scientific, and networking experiences to our members.

Chaired by Jess Mandel, MD, ATSF, the Task Force charge includes assessing our current planning and programming for the annual IC; conducting an environmental scan of trends in adult learning and planning and executing conferences, both in-person and virtual; incorporating findings from research being completed to develop an e-learning strategy; determining the primary goals of educational and scientific events; designing the ideal conference experience; and sketching out a roadmap for moving forward. This is indeed a key undertaking that will lead to a formal report to our leadership and will impact our members’ learning experiences for years to come.

At the ATS, education is a year-round commitment. Our journals publish cutting-edge research throughout the year, keeping our members and the scientific community at the forefront of new discoveries. Moreover, the society is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, which allows us to offer opportunities for our U.S.-based members to earn Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits and Maintenance of Certification (MOC) points through multiple venues, including but not limited to the IC.

As our members now work under duress while addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re glad to provide opportunities for CME and MOC points on-demand through the ATS Store, via our new Clinical Core Curriculum, which consists of four packages; Critical Care, Pulmonary, Sleep, and Pediatrics. Learners participate by viewing the course webcast, passing an MOC exam, and completing a CME evaluation. We also offer postgraduate courses and board review materials in the ATS Store.

The ATS education department, ATS Assemblies, and our corporate partners offer webinars and webinar-series throughout the year, many of which also offer CME/MOC credit. In direct response to the needs created by the ongoing pandemic, the ATS launched the “COVID-19 Critical Care Training Forum,” geared toward early career professionals and non-ICU trained health care providers, as well as “Global Perspectives on COVID-19,” a webinar series created in partnership with our peer societies to facilitate learning without regard to borders.  

In these challenging times, the ATS is proud to support our members by facilitating access to the newest discoveries, promoting collegial interactions and networking, earning required professional CME/MOC credits, and refreshing skillsets from the past, which are needed now more than ever.