Meeting Overview

International Winter Arrhythmia School: Interview with Dr. Eugene Crystal

Interview by Jodie Elrod

Interview by Jodie Elrod

The upcoming 15th annual International Winter Arrhythmia School will take place February 9-11, 2018 in Mont Tremblant, Quebec. In this interview, we speak with Dr. Eugene Crystal, Chairman and Founder of the Winter Arrhythmia School, the largest Arrhythmia CME in Canada.

When and why was the International Winter Arrhythmia School created? How did it come about?

When I entered into EP in the late 1990s, it was a fascinating time. The number of clinically approved innovations was growing tremendously, and yet there was a big educational gap between what was known about arrhythmias and what was happening on the ground, with technology changing the clinical field overnight with very little training provided. There was also no major CME conference in the arrhythmia field in Canada at that time. So the need was there, and that is why this conference was created. 

This meeting rotates between Ontario and Quebec. Both provinces have large clinical systems and are within a short commute to the United States. When the meeting takes place in Ontario, it is held at Blue Mountain Resort, which is about a two-hour drive from Toronto. In Quebec, the meeting takes place at the Fairmont Tremblant in Mont Tremblant, located about 90 minutes from Montreal.

This year is the 15th annual conference. What changes have you seen in the field of cardiac electrophysiology over the years? 

I believe one of the major changes is that the need for highly educated doctors and allied professionals (e.g., nurses, techs, and NPs) is growing, while the usual channels of training are slow to change. It is difficult to train a fellow on different device platforms or ablation modalities if he or she is trained in one place. It’s also difficult to train or expose allied professionals to this structured form of training across varied technology and clinical pathways platforms. Therefore, I think the need for education is increasing. This challenge may be fiscal, because hospitals are increasingly squeezed in terms of budget, along with declining sponsorships from industry. 

Tell us about some of the key highlights to be included at this year’s conference. 

This year’s program includes our traditional structure with streams for arrhythmia and device management, respectively. Our faculty is comprised of international and Canadian speakers. We have several sessions dedicated particularly to atrial fibrillation (AF), including automation and robotics for AF ablation. We are also collaborating with the International Society of Electrocardiology and International Society for Holter and Noninvasive Electrocardiology (ISHNE). 

In addition, we’ll address pharmacotherapy options that are entering the North American market. Another session will cover implantable loop recorders, which I believe are largely underused, at least in our space. We are also offering some interesting sessions addressing AF and dementia, AF and exercise, and AF in oncocardiology, which we are seeing more cases of. 

Finally, workshops are offered separately from sessions, and feature an expert speaking with small groups. This year’s program includes workshops on mapping systems and devices.  

What opportunities are available for allied professionals?

The majority of our program is designed for multilevel training. The 15th International Winter Arrhythmia School is currently confirming its approval for CME accreditation. 

How many attendees are expected?

We have seen this meeting grow for 14 consecutive years. Historically, there are less attendees when the meeting is held in Quebec as opposed to Ontario. We anticipate approximately 150 people this year.  

Why should people attend this meeting?

We are able to offer more focused content in a smaller venue, unlike some of the larger conferences where attendees are pulled into many different directions. This program is also known to discuss cutting-edge topics ahead of other major conferences. Finally, Mont Tremblant is a phenomenal location for those who like to hit the slopes in a beautiful Francophone ski village. On behalf of the organizing committee, we look forward to seeing everyone there!

For more information, please visit: