|Ahead of print publication
Why and how to attend a medical conference
M Vishnu Sharma
Department of Respiratory Medicine, A. J. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Mangalore, Karnataka, India
|Date of Submission||03-Jul-2020|
|Date of Decision||28-Nov-2020|
|Date of Acceptance||14-Dec-2020|
M Vishnu Sharma,
Department of Respiratory Medicine, A. J. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Mangalore - 575 004, Karnataka
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
It is important to attend medical conferences for professional development. Proper planning and focus during the conference is essential for a good outcome. In this article, we briefly discuss how to plan and make the best use of attending a medical conference.
Keywords: Attend, medical conference, plan, preparation
| Introduction|| |
Medical science is evolving very fast. Newer techniques of evaluation, treatment, and many other dimensions in patient management are being invented. Hence, it is important to attend medical conferences for professional development and keep updated ourselves. Proper planning and focus while attending the conference is essential for a good outcome.
| Preparation|| |
Sometimes, we come across too many scientific programs at different places with little time gap in between. One may have confusion regarding which program to attend. We should select the one which will be most beneficial. Details regarding the topics, speakers, duration and date of the program, venue, likelihood of peer group attending the program, ease of travel and stay, and expenditure required will help to make the decision.
Some conferences conduct pre- or postconference workshops. Attending a workshop is a great way to have a focused learning. Hence, if there is any workshop which you find will be useful to improve your skill and knowledge, attend that workshop.
We need to plan for active participation in the program. If you are a subject expert, write to the organizers how best you can contribute – as a speaker/panelist/chair/judge to assess the scientific papers being presented. Organizers may not know you/your area of interest/expertise. Hence, do not expect organizers to contact you. There is no harm in writing to the organizers, but do not get offended if you do not get a positive response. If you are a youngster, take this opportunity to present your original research work as paper or poster. This is the best way to get noticed among the scientific community.
Inform your friends and peer group regarding the event so as to ensure that you get a good company as well during the event. Plan your travel and stay well in advance. Plan for few extra days to visit the places in and around with family/friends. Before attending the event, go through the program in detail and plan each day's program.
Medical conference is a great place to meet your teachers, friends, and other colleagues. You can plan for a get-together with your friends, alumni, or teachers during the event. Plan to be there during their sessions in the conference. Also, select sessions with active discussion and sessions which include pioneers in the field.
| In the Conference|| |
First go to the registration desk and collect registration kit (this entitles you to enter the conference venue and the exhibition area). Proceed as per your plan, otherwise you may get lost as there may be too many distractions. Be there for the session of your interest in time and find a proper seat. Do not run through one hall after other. Switch halls during break so as not to disturb others. Do not indulge in activities which will disturb others inside the conference hall such as greeting someone, conversations, answering mobile calls, or snoring. Inside the conference hall, always keep the mobile silent.
Make new friends/find mentors. Discuss with other researchers who share your area of interest and exchange ideas. Make groups for interaction and future collaboration.
Always try to attend the inaugural function which is usually held on the first day. This is one of the most important events of the conference where the theme of the conference is unveiled. The inaugural function is usually followed by a cultural program where the local traditional arts are staged, which will help to get an idea about the local art and culture.
Attend the sessions as planned earlier. Make time to meet your colleagues, friends, and teachers and interact with them. Interaction with others will give you new ideas, broaden your thinking, and motivate you to improve and improvise yourself.
Everyone can't be involved as a speaker or a chairperson, but each one can contribute to the success of scientific discussions. Actively involve yourself during the discussion by asking meaningful questions. You will always be noticed for this by the scientific community. If you are an expert in the topic presented, do not hesitate to add your comments, experience, and views during the discussion in a gentle manner. Questions/discussion should be to the point, crisp, and apt. Be humble during your discussions. Do not try to show off or overpower the speaker. Avoid prolonged debates/prepared speeches during the discussion. Keep in mind the time constraints and also allow others to speak. Further detailed interactions with the speaker can be done individually after the session.
Introduce yourself and interact with the faculty of national and international fame in your area of interest who may help you to grow in your field (especially if you are a youngster) during the session break. Conference is one of the places where a youngster can find a godfather.
Be a keen observer and interact with the organizers and learn how best you can plan to organize a similar event at your place. Observe the conduct of speakers and chairpersons which may give you new ideas to improve yourself. Always remember to write notes on whatever you come across as new.
Try to attend original research paper presentations, award sessions, and orations. Walk through the poster area with a friend. Some of the papers and posters may be thought provoking. If your colleague/friend/student is presenting a paper/poster, be there during the session to encourage them. Do not miss the session of your teacher/friend.
Try to be positive and appreciate whatever good you observe. Words of appreciation are of paramount importance. Appreciate the organizers for the hard work. If you are impressed by someone who delivered a good speech/presented a good original research work, meet them and appreciate. If you are a senior faculty, always make a point to visit the poster area and discuss with the presenters and appreciate the youngsters for their hard work, adding words of wisdom and learning points.
Exhibition is one of the important areas which should be visited. You can gather information about new drugs or gadgets being launched in the market, which are usually displayed and explained in the exhibition area. This is the area which you can visit with your peer group and spend some leisure time.
Do not hesitate to relish your taste buds with the local cuisines (best done during dinner). It is okay to forget your diet plan during the event, you can always make up once you are back home. Attend the cultural events and socialize during the dinner time. Show your skills if you get an opportunity. You can hit the dance floor/sing a song/enthuse the audience with your oratory skills during the dinner. Do not overindulge as it may cause nuisance to others. Take care to maintain the dignity and decorum.
If there is official meeting of the association of which you are a member during the conference, do not miss the meeting. Try to attend the valedictory function, more so if you are close to the organizers/won a prize. Remember to take photographs (to cherish the moments with friends). Have conference backdrop at least in one or two photographs. Get the help of a friend for a proper photograph during your active participation. Do not forget to collect participation certificate (adds value to CV).
Meet the organizers, wish them, and thank them during your departure, for organizing the event and for the hospitality.
| After the Conference|| |
Make a proper note of what you have learned. Make a note of deficiencies and methods to overcome the same, which will be useful when you plan an event. Share your experience with your colleagues and plan for a similar event at your place. Write to the organizers thanking them for organizing the event.
| Overcome the Postconference Blues|| |
When you are back, do not get low because you are bombarded with information. You may get a feeling that others are much ahead of you, which may make you feel low. Medical science is improving very fast, and it is impossible to be updated on every aspect. Remember nobody knows everything/no one is perfect. One should aim to have a reasonable skill and knowledge. By focusing on a particular aspect, one can become an expert in that field. Sit back and relax – don't be overenthusiastic to learn everything. It is impossible. Need-based learning is ideal. If you try to learn everything, you may end up not retaining even the basics/may get confused. Everything should be within limits. Too much of information may lead to confusion. You can easily get information now within minutes whenever required. Now, knowledge is on the fingertips, provided you know how and where to get the information. Collect information as and when required rather than overburdening yourself. Do not blindly imitate or try to copy others. Follow your passion and get ideas from all sources to improvise yourself.
Get inspiration from the conference. Evaluate yourself whether you have fulfilled your goals. If not, find the reasons so as not to repeat the same mistakes again. Carefully organize the photographs of the conference to cherish the memories later.
Financial support and sponsorship
Conflicts of interest
There are no conflicts of interest.
| References|| |
Anne E. Egger, Anthony Carpi. The How and Why of Scientific Meetings. Vision Learning Vol. POS-3 (3). 2011.