It was impossible not to become excited at the sight of over 400 cardiac cath professionals gathered together at ASOCC. Hearing that you are part of a vibrant professional community is one thing; seeing it in person is another entirely. Each professional arrived from a lab that is unique (some more so than others!), but all cath labs struggle with the same problems: how to improve patient care, increase efficiencies, implement new technologies, and maintain morale and of course, all on a budget. With these thoughts in mind, Cath Lab Digest unveiled its second Annual Symposium on Cardiovascular Care (ASOCC) on June 5-7th. The symposium opened with James Ferguson, MD, known, among other things, for his ability to untangle adjunct pharmacology in PCI and incredible PowerPoint technique. Presenters went on to discuss hot topics such as drug-eluting stents and the latest technology for chronic total occlusions. The ASOCC team also invited renowed cardiologist and past American College of Cardiology president Spencer King, MD, who gladly shared his historical experiences along with a funny story or two. Anticipating a Diverse Group All professionals arrived with different levels of knowledge, which was actively addressed in planning for the presentations. ASOCC offered everything from a hemodynamic workshop for beginning cath lab professionals to a review of radio contrast nephropathy, to a discussion of alcohol ablation in hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (repeat 10 times fast!). One experienced cath lab manager also brought along a new staff member. Sitting side-by-side as each day unfolded, they both felt presenters shared information from which they could benefit. The manager made a point of attending the Friday evening symposium on the clinical and financial impact of drug-eluting stents. She also paid close attention to presentations such as the case study on joint venture cath labs. Meanwhile, her new staff member took great interest in a discussion on restenosis management, and paid wide-eyed attention to Cath Lab Complications: Your Worst Nightmare. A View From Behind the Scenes Throughout the symposium, a strong audience-speaker connection kept things lively, particularly during Ginger Graham’s two talks, on women’s heart disease and individual leadership. ASOCC speakers often expressed their own excitement at the size of their audience. Some physicians, familiar with speaking to smaller numbers at other meetings, were energized at being able to speak to 800 attentive eyes and ears. The Hard Work Begins Admittedly, ASOCC wasn’t all fun and games. There were some very serious social and culinary experiences that also required attendees’ full attention. Against all odds, lunchtime remained a popular time of day. Held in the exhibit hall, attendees attacked the free food with gusto and mingled with exhibitors. Company representatives shared friendly conversation, information, and free goodies. Past attendees from 2002 had told the ASOCC team that a greater exhibitor presence would be welcome. Industry responded, and this year, the exhibit hall was packed with 29 companies from the American College of Cardiology to Witt Biomedical. Attendees also made use of this opportunity; after breaks, lights were dimmed an extra time or two to conclude ongoing conversations. The ASOCC Friday night gala offered people a chance to relax and chat over dinner, drinks and dancing. The gala wound down in time for people to join the ongoing party that is Las Vegas or for symposium attendees to get a full night’s sleep before the final day. The Final Day Holds Encouragement and a Few Surprises ASOCC concluded on Saturday morning, which allowed families and/or co-workers to vacation for a while before heading back to their labs. Early risers were rewarded with 8am workshops on hemodynamics and data integration. As they gathered between presentations and munched on breakfast, people shared stories of fortunes won (or nearly won) in casinos, and began to think of warm sun and the delights of post-ASOCC freedom. However, the very funny motivational speaker, Brad Montgomery, quickly brought them back into attentive mode, as people laughed and giggled until their sides hurt. It’s always tough to speak after a comedian, but after so many good laughs, people were focused and ready to dig into the tough clinical work. Surgeon Michael McGrath and interventionalist John Parker obliged, debating the value of surgery versus PCI for treating heart disease. Emphasizing its primary goal, ASOCC concluded with a call to (educational) arms. Author Sue Apple, DNSc, RN, and Cath Lab Digest editor Rebecca Yospyn encouraged people to not only absorb information, but to share it via the written word. What better way to strengthen the professional community than through support of each professional’s efforts to share their knowledge? ASOCC Next Year ASOCC 2004 will be again be held in Las Vegas. Watch upcoming issues of Cath Lab Digest and www.cathlabdigest.com for further information regarding specific dates and hotel location. See you in 2004!