The 36th Annual AACVPR Annual Meeting covered an incredible amount of ground over four days, from October 6-9, 2021. In all, more than 770 registered attendees joined the live, virtual program—which included 40 educational sessions led by dozens of dynamic and colorful speakers. The presentations touched on everything from nutrition education and virtual pulmonary rehab to breakthroughs in pediatric cardiac rehab and tobacco treatment innovations.
In addition to all of the learning brought to the table, the conference offered an opportunity to network and make new connections, as well as to honor reward recipients. As is customary, it also provided the platform for the transfer of leadership from AACVPR’s Immediate Past President, Dean Diersing, to Amy Knight, PhD, ABPP, who takes the reins for the 2021-22 term.
With the excitement of the livestream portion of the event behind us, Dr. Knight paused to reflect on the experience and share her thoughts on what comes next. Her message to members:
Greetings to the fellowship of AACVPR! I doubled-checked the definition of “fellowship” to ensure I was using the word correctly to convey, as the Oxford Dictionary confirms, a “friendly association, especially with people who share one’s interests.” That certainly applies, as I have never met such a welcoming and friendly group!
I am so honored to serve as AACVPR's President this year. AACVPR as an organization, and all the people therein, has been pivotal in both my professional and personal journeys (It's no coincidence that I've embraced the vegan lifestyle!). I am continually inspired by all of you and the work you do. I have had the distinct privilege of meeting many of you along the way. Some I met in the workplace, some at conference and others on committees, task forces and expert groups (shout out to the PsychNuts!).
I would also like mention the special place in my heart for the leadership on the AACVPR Board of Directors, past and present. I have learned so much from you along the way, and I am impressed by your commitment to service, clarity of vision and your kindness. I want to recognize the calm and steady presence of Dean Diersing, MS, RCEP, EP-C, EIM3, CCRP, FAACVPR as our Immediate Past President in what was another roller coaster of a year. Like Ana Mola, PhD, RN, ANP-C, MAACVPR the year before, Dean continued the hard work of guiding AACVPR through uncertain times, many budgetary revisions and another virtual Annual Meeting to align with ongoing challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. I know I speak for all who have worked closely with Dean over this past year in applauding him for his tremendous effort and successful outcomes. Thank you, Dean, for your leadership of AACVPR!
By the same token, I’m very much looking forward to working with the incoming 2021-2022 Board of Directors. Special congratulations are in order for President-Elect Ash Walker, DHSc., MA, ACSM-RCEP, FAACVPR, Treasurer Hank Wu, MD, MPH and Secretary Ruth Akers, RN, BSN, MHA, FAACVPR. I’d also like to welcome new Directors Stacey Greenway, CCRP, FAACVPR and Joel Hughes, PhD, FAACVPR, along with Director-at-Large Columbus Batiste, MD, FACC, FSCAI to their respective seats at the table.
With this team at the helm, AACVPR is well-positioned to press forward on the association’s goals as laid out in the 2020-2022 Strategic Plan. As we prepare for the future of cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, the focus will be on strengthening membership growth and engagement, program quality and sustainability, and science and outcomes.
The coming year will also see AACVPR do more related to health equity, including the launch of a new group dedicated to this important issue. The Board of Directors is committed to the mission of recognizing disparities and unconscious biases, with a goal of doing a better job of making our practices inclusive environments. It will require the might of all of us, however, to achieve this result; and I welcome the opportunity to pursue it with each and every one of you.
Annual Meeting Perseveres
Although this year's event is still fresh on our minds, planning is already underway for next year. I hate to admit that we are getting good at this, but I think it is safe to say that we pulled off a high-quality conference in the virtual format. The months of planning and hard work were evident in the lineup this year due to the efforts of the program planning committee and staff, as well as all the excellent submissions for presentations and posters. Thanks to all who contribute to the making of the meeting in advance.
This preparation was instrumental in allowing AACVPR to make the quick pivot to our second annual (and dare I say, final?) virtual conference for enthusiastic and engaged attendees. As always, sponsorship and vendor support represent valued partnerships throughout the year. A sincere thank you to all who contributed financially to help ensure the success of the Annual Meeting as well as to support the ongoing commitment to the mission of AACVPR and the membership. We all look forward to the return to an in-person meeting in 2022!