April 1999

Meeting Expectations

By Michael J. Katin, MD

April is here, which years ago used to mean two months to go in the semester but now means time is running out for asking for that tax extension and, less importantly, that the medical convention season is about to start. Within the next few months most of the major organizations with the exception of ASTRO will be having national meetings. Is ASTRO aberrant? Or is everybody else?

In any event, nestled among the bigger happenings such as ASCO and the AUA is the ACRO national meeting in San Francisco from April 22-26. The thought of two thousand rabid radiation oncologists being turned loose in Baghdad-on-the-Bay is too much of an image to overlook. Already some of the major hotels are anticipating room destruction not seen since the last Rolling Stones tour. Escort services are getting unlisted numbers. And Oakland mayor Jerry Brown has considered closing the Eastbound lanes of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge..

And once the meeting gets underway, imagine the usual events. Major scientific presentations rewording the same material as at the American Radium Society, although with the sequence of authors switched. Awards to some of the great contributors to the field, who, like Jack Palance and James Coburn, deserve to win for hanging around that many years. The usual rivalry between town and gown, i.e., private practice and academics, although in San Francisco the gown concept may have different connotations. And most of all, the unofficial gatherings of the power brokers, trying to set up alliances to shaft their enemies before somebody else does it to them.

And for those who are not going, just remember that within the next five years, with decreasing medical reimbursement, all national meetings will be held as virtual meetings on line and you can attend in the discomfort of your own home. So unless you have cable cars in your driveway and world-class restaurants in your garage, and unless a spousal program of touring your back yard would appeal to your significant other, you shouldn't skip any of these extravaganzas before they pass into history. Just ask yourself, when was the last time Mahler's Symphony of 1000 was staged in your city? Or a Stegosaurus walked up your street? Nothing lasts forever.*

*except for board certifications issued before 1991

email: mkatin@radiotherapy.com