Featured photo (L to R): Audina M. Berrocal, MD, John W. Kitchens, MD, R.V. Paul Chan, MD, Charles C. Wykoff, MD, William S. Tasman, MD, Mrs. Alice Lee Tasman, Harry W. Flynn, Jr., MD, Geeta A. Lalwani, MD, Thomas A. Albini, MD, R. Ross Lakhanpal, MD, Derek Kunimoto, MD and Charles W. Mango, MD
Ten years ago 10 young retina specialists, who had just completed their Fellowship, met and started designing, the VIT Buckle Society, VBS. The retina world has many meetings during a calendar year so to have the foresight and framework to start a new meeting is quite an accomplishment. RetinaLink had the unique opportunity to meet with five VBS Executive Committee members at the Retina Society in Paris, France. Drs. Thomas A. Albini, Miami, FL, Audina M. Berrocal, Miami, FL, R.V. Paul Chan, Chicago, IL, R. Ross Lakhanpal, Baltimore, MD and Charles C. Wykoff, Houston, TX, answered a variety of questions about their upcoming VBS004 meeting in March 2016 and outline why their new format for interaction, open discussion and dialogue has been so successful.
Q: VBS has increased their attendance each year over the last five years. What do you attribute this to?
Dr. Thomas Albini: We have a comfortable meeting setting which fosters interactive surgical and retina pharmaceutical discussions. These open dialogues are not only clinically relevant but, we ensure they are guided and facilitated by Moderators and the VBS Executive Committee. Additionally, we provide retina specialists opportunities to meet and interact with industry in this relaxed setting as well as network on many levels with their peers and mentors in the retina community.
Dr. Ross Lakhanpal: Our VBS meeting includes a debate format in certain sessions. As Tom mentioned, we guide and facilitate these debates to ensure productive dialogue without offending someone.
Dr. R.V. Paul Chan: As Tom and Ross mentioned, the meeting is interactive, it’s surgically focused, and everyone is encouraged to be involved in the discussion. And, I think one very important aspect of the meeting that brings people together is that it’s just a lot of fun.
Q: As an Attending Physician, why would you encourage your Fellows to attend VBS in March 2016?
Dr. Albini: We approach the VBS meeting format as a balanced forum. Our meeting is an “enhanced” partnership and collaboration with retina specialists, industry and our mentors in the retina community.
Dr. Audina Berrocal: We ensure the VBS meeting attendees are “part of the meeting” and not just casual observers in the audience. We, the Executive Committee, maintain a “purist” attitude and will discuss all subject matter in both academia and private practice. For example, we aren’t afraid to show surgical complications and discuss how to work through the complication presented. Complications do exist and the exchange at the VBS meeting is the reality of surgery.
Dr. Chan: A primary focus of the VBS meeting is on the Fellows. From the Fellows Foray to the meeting itself, the Fellows are an integral part to the discussion during the meeting. VBS believes that mentoring the next generation of retinal specialists is critical and we want to have an environment where Fellows can comfortably ask questions, provide their opinions, and learn from more senior mentors.
Dr. Lakhanpal: VBS provides Fellows the opportunity to meet their peers going through the same things you are during your Fellowship. Also, VBS meeting attendees have the opportunity to meet young retina leaders on the rise who are also in attendance.
Q: What do you like best about VBS?
Dr. Albini: We are always looking for ways to make the meeting more interesting and better support an open, well-informed, balanced and reasoned discussion. Dr. Harry W. Flynn, Jr. recently suggested we include “fact checking” in our next meeting. I, personally, like this suggestion and we plan to incorporate “a fact checking” table at the meeting comprised of a Senior Faculty member and a Fellow at some sessions of VBS004. When the “fact checking” group finds a factual error during a presentation they will chime in. We, retina specialists, attend meetings and there are times the items presented or comments made need to be verified. I think this addition will be fun, informative and enhance the meeting.
Dr. Lakhanpal: Plain and simple… Collegiality.
Q: Last year, you invited Dean Carmen Puliafito MD, Los Angeles, CA, to be your Keynote Speaker and Dr. John Kitchens interviewed him during the VBS meeting. Dr. Steve Charles is 2016’s Keynote Speaker. You have luminaries in retina each year at VBS. How do you choose your Keynote Speakers?
All: All 10 members of the VBS Executive Committee vote on our Keynote Speaker.
Q: So, what’s new for VBS004 and how is your meeting differentiated from other meetings in 2016?
Dr. Albini: We’re planning a new “live surgery” component in 2016.
Dr. Berrocal: No abstract required. We focus on asking questions and listening to answers.
Dr. Lakhanpal: VBS004 is a “Society of Fellows for Fellows” in the world. We are inclusionary in a relaxed environment.
Dr. Charles Wykoff: VBS is a forum on learning how and where to contribute to retina in the future. Simply stated, a warm up in academics.
VBS004 looks to be another exciting and informational meeting in 2016 and the addition of live surgery is outstanding. As Dr. Steven Yeh said, “VBS makes better surgeons since our meeting format provides real clinical situations for both medical and surgical retina.” RetinaLink applauds the VBS Executive Committee on their educational objectives and inclusivity of all generations in the retina community. It’s obvious the Executive Committee* friendship that started 10 years ago has created a meeting that is remarkable and should be congratulated on its positive impressions for future generations of retina specialists.
Save the Date and mark your calendar for VBS004 on March 17–19, 2016 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. They can accommodate 200 retina specialists so contact Medical Conference Planners or visit their website at http://www.medconfs.com to learn more about VBS004.
* VBS Executive Committee:
Thomas A. Albini, MD – Miami, FL
Audina M. Berrocal, MD – Miami, FL
R.V. Paul Chan, MD – Chicago, IL
John W. Kitchens, MD – Lexington, KY
Derek Kunimoto, MD – Phoenix, AZ
R. Ross Lakhanpal, MD – Baltimore, MD
Geeta A. Lalwani, MD – Boulder, CO
Charles W. Mango, MD – Bronxville, NY
Andrew A. Moshfeghi, MD – Los Angeles, CA
Charles C. Wykoff, MD – Houston, TX