Fantasy Island was a popular TV series that aired for years on Saturday night following the Love Boat, another popular anthology show of that era. I spent many happy hours watching those series during my early adolescence!
On each Fantasy Island episode, visitors flew in by seaplane to a luxurious and remote resort where they could live-out their fantasies under the direction of the suave Mr. Roarke (Ricardo Montalbán), and his assistant, Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize). Just prior to that week’s guest stars disembarking from the plane (“De plane! De plane!“), Mr. Roarke would raise his arms and remind his assembling staff on how they should greet their visitors: “Smiles everyone! Smiles!”
Each episode of Fantasy Island typically featured two independent storylines where guests interacted with Mr. Roarke and Tattoo and learned valuable life lessons as they experienced their fantasies. Even if you weren’t interested in the “A” story” or the “B” story that week, you still watched the show for the humorous banter between the hosts, and various “rituals” that provided millions of viewers with a certain level of comfort and familiarity that made us eager to return to Fantasy Island each week.
In certain ways, I feel our APS Annual Meeting, now entering its “77’th season”, is similar to Fantasy Island with its own familiar rituals, recurring cast members, and “special guest stars”. They include:
- Our recurring hosts. Laura Degnon, Sarah Shiffert and the professional staff at Degnon Associates who have supported APS since the 1980’s.
- Our “Special Guest Host”. Sarah Pressman, Annual Meeting Program Chair and her Program Committee.
- “Special Guest Star Keynote speakers”. Charles Raison, Tené Lewis, and Emeran Mayer.
- Wednesday Prelude. Young Investigator Colloquium, pre-conference workshops and APS Council Meeting.
- Wednesday Evening Opening Plenary and Citation Poster Session.
- Day 1 New Member’s Welcome Breakfast, Morning Plenary, numerous paper sessions and symposia, evening poster session, and mentor-mentee reception.
- Day 2. 7a.m. roundtables before the Morning Plenary and Presidential Address, then more exciting paper sessions, symposia, and another poster session.
- Day 3. Up early with the inaugural Program Committee Meeting for the next year’s Annual Meeting, followed by the APS Annual Business Meeting, Pass-the-Gavel ceremony to the next APS President, more interesting paper sessions and symposia before closing the day with a fabulous Farewell Banquet!
- Annual Awards. Herbert Weiner, Patricia Barchas, Donald Oken, Paul MacLean, Distinguished Scientist, Travel, and more!
- More Rituals? Yes! The Psychosomatic Medicine Editorial Board Lunch and Past Leaders Dinner (both invite only), and of course waiting outside the hotel lobby for the ride back to the airport!
I attended my first APS Annual Meeting in 2000 (Savannah), and have attended every subsequent meeting except when I was on sabbatical. Most years I present a paper, moderate a panel, and/or participate in a workshop. Some years I simply come to hear the science presented and look for new ideas to inform my own work. And every year I look forward to simply catching-up with old friends and making new ones!
In addition to the core “rituals” described above, this year the Program Committee added several features to help keep #APS2019VAN fresh for long-time members and relevant to a new generation of investigators. They include several Scientific Salons where members can interact informally with senior APS investigators for discussions in small groups, three late-breaking clinical research paper sessions, trainee data blitz, wellness sessions, Social Media Task Force, and more!
Finally, it has been a professional honor and a privilege to serve as your APS President this past year for which I am deeply grateful (more on this topic in my Day 2 President’s Address). Thank you for taking the time to read my monthly President’s Message and write comments back. Through teamwork (leadership and followership) and simply a lot of time and effort devoted by our members to APS and the Degnons, I am thrilled to report APS membership is up over 15% from last year, abstract submissions to our Annual Meeting were at an all-time high, and #APS2019VAN is poised to be one of our best attended and possibly one of our most exciting Annual Meetings ever!
Whether this is your first or nineteenth Annual Meeting like mine (or more), I hope participating in the APS Annual Meeting will become a meaningful “can’t-miss” ritual for you too!
See you in Vancouver…and remember to bring your passport and keep your smartphones on WiFi (or better yet, leave them off during the presentations)! Smiles everyone! Smiles!
Bruce L. Rollman, MD, MPH
President, APS 2018/19
PS: I know it will be early in the morning for some of you, but please attend our APS Business Meeting at 8:15 a.m. on Saturday to hear a summary of the Society’s achievements since last year’s Annual Meeting, preview several new developments we hope to roll-out in 2019 – including a pathway to fellowship (FAPS), and meet your new elected President and slate of officers.