December 2nd, 2009
Cardiology in the Big Tent
Helping our fellows make the most of a national meeting
I remember the first national meetings I attended as a fellow. They were sensory overload experiences: Huge crowds, stargazing at the cardiology luminaries, preparing and overpreparing for my own talks (attended by few beyond my closest friends), staying up too late at the lobby bars.
Now, seeing this experience through the eyes of our own fellows, I’ve found that unless we provide some guidance, they don’t get as much out of the meeting as they should. We send each fellow to one national meeting a year (more, if they are presenting). Here is a version of the email we send them before the meeting:
Prepare in advance. The meeting is enormous, and if you wait to decide what to do, you will spend your day running back and forth across the conference center without learning much
Focus on full or half sessions rather than individual talks
You will usually learn more from the didactic lectures/symposia than the research talks, unless the talks are in an area of particular interest to you.
Identify one or two clinical areas in which you feel you need more depth of knowledge, or that we have not focused on sufficiently, and learn about these areas in depth
2. Remember that this is a business trip, not a vacation
Have a great time . . . but remember that you represent the program at all times
Be an ambassador for the program
Attend as much of the meeting as possible each day
3. You do not need to attend your own faculty’s programs
This is your opportunity to get exposure to experts outside our institution
4. You should plan to attend your co-fellows’ presentations and poster sessions
Friendly faces make a huge difference to colleagues who are presenting
I’d be interested to know your program’s policies regarding the national meetings. How important are these meetings to the overall fellowship experience? Did you learn anything new? Was the networking valuable? Is it worth the expense to send the fellows to the big meetings, or would the money be better spent on other educational opportunities?