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How to Conference As A Resident

Have you ever wondered how some residents can both find the time and funds to attend conferences during training? Maybe you've even thought about how conferences might help your career. For answers to these questions and more, keep reading for Dr. Xi's tips on how to conference during residency.

How can I afford to attend so many conferences?!

During the 2018-2019 academic year thus far, I attended 14 different conferences/meetings in various locations such as San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, Orlando, Washington DC, and locally, in Boston. While I definitely live comfortably on my resident salary, there is NO way I’d be able to afford these trips on my own. Here’s how I make it work:


I have run the @amwadoctors Annual Meetings since 2013 and as a result, receive financial assistance to attend. This year, I am the Co-Chair of the resident component of our specialty state society; through this position, I attended @asahq #ANES18.


Most academic residencies (and medical schools) will provide some financial support for conference posters or oral presentations. At my medical school [@ouwbmed], I took advantage of a small stipend a couple of times in order to present at conferences.


When I first looked at registration the registration cost for the @sccmcriticalcare meeting last February, I thought I was seeing things. At close to $1000 for JUST REGISTRATION, there was no way I could afford a flight AND hotel to attend. So I dug around the website and stumbled across a volunteer sign-up that allowed me to completely waive the registration cost and save $1000!


Some organizations offer travel grants/assistance for trainees - @amwadoctors provides travel grants for student & resident members.


Consider looking for an @airbnb or asking a friend if you can stay with them in order to save money. Take public transit instead of an Uber/Lyft. Creating a budget can help you decide if the investment is worth it.

Remember, some conferences are an investment in your future. For example, I gave a talk at @asahq a couple years back that led to an invitation to give Grand Rounds.

How do I make time for conferences?!

A few of you asked how I was able to find the time to attend 14 meetings/conferences during the year...well here you go:


One way I make this happen is ask for specific call days (we work 7a-7a 24 hour shifts & get a 24 hour post-call day after), so I use my post-call day to travel or attend a meeting. I asked to be on call yesterday so I could travel and attend the meeting today. Additionally, a good number of meetings happen on weekend days — our program does a FABULOUS job accommodating no call weekend requests to attend conferences [THANKS @aditi.balakrishna ].


I scope out all the meetings I might be attending a year in advance. The moment I have confirmed dates, I send an email with specific requests to my Chiefs.


Some of you may be morally against this, but I have used 2/3 weeks of vacation to attend meetings this year. Generally the meeting is only a couple days and I still have time for vacation [back in Sept/Oct, I went for a meeting then came back and flew to Europe].

I hope these insights are helpful, if you have any of your own tips for conferencing as a resident, add them in the comments below. Happy conferencing!

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Networking is invaluable, so make time to connect with peers and mentors. Remember to balance learning with self-care—explore local day retreats for a quick refresh. These retreats can provide a needed mental break, helping you stay focused and energized throughout the conference. Lastly, take detailed notes and follow up on new contacts and ideas once you're back.

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