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Explore This IssueMay 2013
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Scientific meetings typically are businesslike affairs held in hotel ballrooms or conference centers, with attendees having little opportunity to get to know each other. Yet one event on the annual calendar of rheumatology medical education meetings defies that stereotype: The Winter Rheumatology Symposium, held the last week of each January in scenic Snowmass, Colo.
Located in a ski resort close to Aspen, the Winter Rheumatology Symposium is a six-day meeting with two two-hour educational sessions held each morning and afternoon. From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, there are no scheduled activities, so attendees have time to ski, relax, or talk with other attendees and speakers. The meeting was founded in 1977 by rheumatologists William N. Kelley, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia; William Arnold, MD, of the Illinois Bone and Joint Institute in Morton Grove, Ill.; and Edward W. Holmes, MD, now president and chief executive officer of the Stanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine in La Jolla, Calif. In the early 1990s, the ACR took over management of the meeting, but each year, a three-member committee of rheumatologists plans the educational course.
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The meeting always attracts between 150 and 200 attendees, mainly rheumatology clinicians and top lecturers in rheumatologic care, says Michael E. Weinblatt, MD, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
“We try to have a portion of the talks be cutting-edge basic science with clinical applications. Most of our attendees are practicing rheumatologists,” says Dr. Weinblatt, who has attended the meeting for the past 25 years and twice served as co-chair. “We highlight the major diseases rheumatologists see, and we also bring in lecturers from other specialties, including pulmonology, dermatology, gastroenterology, [or] radiologists or renal specialists.” Even if attendees don’t ski, they enjoy the mountain setting and the opportunity to have in-depth conversations about rheumatologic care, he adds. The 2013 meeting, which attracted 185 attendees and speakers, included a top pulmonologist speaking on lung comorbidities and lung care in rheumatic diseases. Next year’s meeting will include a pediatric dermatologist and a gastroenterologist, Dr. Weinblatt notes.
One former speaker and longtime attendee, and co-chair of the 2013 meeting, Bruce N. Cronstein, MD, professor of medicine at New York University Medical Center, says while attendees tend to be avid skiers, the high-quality content is the major draw.