Attending conferences at any stage in your training is one of the highlights of being involved in the medical field. They have conferences for every specialty and even some very specific ones revolving around certain diseases or procedures. There are also conferences that deal with leadership, medical education, and even social media! Dr. Irastorza shares her top five reasons for attending medical conferences:
Medical conferences were created to help physicians stay up to date with the ever evolving field of medicine. They are typically run by experts in the field and offer many different lectures that you can chose from to attend. They provide continuing medical education (CME) credit which is necessary to stay board certified and up to date with the latest evidence based medicine. You also get to hear about the new up and upcoming research that may not be published yet. You can bounce off ideas or challenging cases with others and learn from the best. I always walk away from conferences learning at least a few new things.
You meet so many people when attending a conference, especially if you put in the effort. It is a great way to connect with your colleagues and maybe even a future boss! They are good for finding jobs if you are planning to relocate or you may find others who want to collaborate on research projects. Some medical specialties are smaller than others so you tend to run into the same people which makes it even easier to develop lasting connections.
Conference are a great way to get new research ideas. You typically hear talks about the latest discoveries or see posters on what other institutions are doing. It can help you come up with new ideas or different ways to approach a problem you may be having. Like I mentioned earlier, you may even meet people you may want to collaborate with who have more resources or funding to help you on your journey. You also get the opportunity to present your own research and get your name out there in your field. This is important if you want to continue doing more research. 4. Travel
I love being able to combine work and travel. Conferences tend to be held in bigger, popular cities because they know more people will attend if there are other things to do in the area. There is always free time or built-in activities. You can get discounted tickets to attractions by being a conference attendee in most places too. I will sometimes piggy back a vacation and add an extra day or two in the location to make the most of my trip. The best part is that you can usually get your travel costs reimbursed, especially if you are presenting research. Most institutions will give you a stipend for medical education which includes conferences. There are also research travel awards depending on the conferences you attend.
Conferences help fight burnout and can rejuvenate you. I am always much more passionate about my field after attending a conference. They are a fun getaway where you can simultaneously learn, explore, bond, and get a break from your routine back home. It always gives me energy to keep moving forward and show that I am not alone!
One last thing to remember, conferences are not just for those already with a MD or DO behind their name. In fact, I highly recommend that both undergraduates and medical students attend conferences early on!
Most organizations have discounted rates for those in training because they encourage participation at all levels. So don’t be intimidated to attend your first conference, because once you go I promise you will be hooked and ready to register for your next one!