THE OFFICIAL NEWS SOURCE OF ACR CONVERGENCE 2022 • NOVEMBER 10-14



Opening Session Keynote to look at long-lasting lessons from pandemics

Seema Yasmin, MD

The ACR Convergence 2021 keynote speaker will examine how adaptations made during the COVID-19 pandemic could change rheumatology practice and what lessons must be learned from such a public health crisis.

Emmy Award-winning journalist, educator, and poet Seema Yasmin, MD, will present “Keynote Lecture: The Covidization of Rheumatology: What Will or Won’t Change Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic” as part of the Opening Session, which will take place from 2 – 3:30 p.m. ET on Friday, Nov. 5. A replay of the session, and all other ACR Convergence 2021 sessions, will be available through March 11, 2022.

Dr. Yasmin, Director, Stanford Health Communication Initiative, Clinical Assistant Professor, Stanford University Department of Medicine, and Visiting Assistant Professor of Health Crisis Communications, Anderson School of Management, University of California at Los Angeles, will explore the panic-neglect cycle of public health crises.

The cycle has been often repeated, said Dr. Yasmin, noting the depletion of N95 respirators from the Strategic National Stockpile during the H1N1 pandemic and the failure to replenish before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Will we repeat this cycle or will there be lasting, positive changes to medicine and public health because of this generation-defining pandemic?” Dr. Yasmin asked. “And specifically, how might rheumatology practice shift and adapt because of necessary adjustments made during the pandemic?”

Rheumatologists’ skill at holistically understanding disease and managing complex diagnoses by combining and documenting patient history through the lens of environmental exposure and lifestyle are important attributes during a pandemic, Dr. Yasmin said. This ability to consider novel diseases in interesting and holistic ways, especially with cutting-edge immunological therapies, brings critical information to new therapeutic development.

Dr. Yasmin has written several books, including “Viral BS: Medical Myths and Why We Fall for Them,” “Muslim Women Are Everything,” and “If God Is a Virus: Poems.” Her experience as an officer in the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service led her to journalism studies.

“I felt there was a too-narrow focus on the containment of disease spread and a neglect to address concurrent false information spread, which is always a problem during epidemics, at least in my experience as a disease detective,” said Dr. Yasmin, who also serves as a medical analyst for CNN.

The Stanford Health Communication Initiative brings evidence-based communication techniques into medical and scientific education. The current pandemic has placed overwhelming pressure on providers to take on this role without proper training in the science and art.

Information spreads in tandem with disease, Dr. Yasmin said, and healthcare providers often neglect to employ evidence-based methods for effective health and science communication. The keynote address will offer advice about how to debunk false information and build trust with patients and the public.

“I believe we need a paradigm shift in the way we think about health and science communication across science and medicine,” Dr. Yasmin said. “It’s a critical skill—in fact, communication is the most frequently practiced health procedure—but it’s long been relegated to an insignificant ‘soft science.’ That needs to change immediately.”

The Opening Session also will have the Welcome and Presidential Address from David Karp, MD, PhD, and the annual awards ceremony. The Year in Review session will follow at 3:30 p.m. ET, with Michael Brenner, MD, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, discussing the year in basic science and Karen Costenbader, MD, MPH, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, discussing the year in clinical rheumatology. The keynote lecture and Year in Review both will feature live question-and-answer sessions.

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