November 13th, 2011

Part of the System

Several Cardiology Fellows who are attending AHA.11 this week are blogging together on CardioExchange.  The Fellows include Revathi Balakrishnan, Eiman Jahangir, John Ryan (moderator), and Amit Shah. Read the previous post here. Check back often to learn about the biggest buzz in Orlando.

The first AHA meeting that I went to was three years ago. It was also held here in Orlando. I was still a naïve Irishman, and no one had prepped me regarding the appropriate attire for the meeting. I did not pack any ties, I packed one pair of khakis, and all I brought were a few short-sleeve shirts (after all, I was going to Orlando). So, I arrived on my first day in a pair of jeans and a hoodie. The minute I walked into the registration hall, I realized my mistake. One of my co-fellows happened to be walking by — he was of course dressed in a suit. He just started laughing at me. He then politely suggested that I head back to my hotel, get my khakis, put on a shirt, and borrow his tie. The problem was that the hotel I was staying at was actually many, many miles outside Orlando, and not on the bus route. I had booked it at the last minute; I had not realized that the whole of Orlando would sell out. To get there, I had to take either a taxi, not without significant expense, or a public bus that took over an hour to get in every day. Ultimately for the next four days I wore short-sleeved shirts with a tie — I looked like Dwight Schrute from The Office.

 Last night, I was packing to go to Orlando for the first time since my inaugural trip three years ago. I ended up packing two suits, four shirts, and five ties (the fifth tie I planned to use for some evening dinners). This time, I am staying in a hotel that I booked in September; it’s about a half mile from the Convention Center on International Drive, on the bus route. I arrived at the convention center, and almost too eerily, I met a first-year fellow from Boston dressed in khakis and a polo shirt. I educated him about the dressing etiquette and rather than use that fifth tie for evening dinners, I donated it to him. I also started thinking about how I had evolved over the past three years, how I had become part of the system, and how I was no longer an innocent Irishman, unfamiliar with the complex ways of the AHA — but was now a seasoned veteran able to get others out of Dodge.

2 Responses to “Part of the System”

  1. Carlos Eduardo Ramos Midence, Internal Medicine specialist, 3rd year cardiology fellow says:

    When I read your lines I thought of how I have changed my etiquette right the other way around!
    Although I have not attendend an ACC Meeting I have had the privilege of beig overseas, Latin America and Central America to several Congresses (not sure spelled like that).
    I remember going as an atendee and as a speaker, and at first I took a suit for each day and a special one for the evening I had to give my lecture. Things have changed. Nowadays I dont worry that much of how I look and actually prefer wearing jeans, short sleeve shirt and a jacket cause there are pretty long days in these meetings hearing excellent lectures and teachers from around the globe.
    I guess everybody enjoys different things.

  2. Thanks for your comment- that is an interesting perspective.
    I have noticed that the attire at the meetings tends to get more casual as the meeting goes on- by Tuesday a lot of the ties have been removed and by Wednesday, attendants are in their clothes for the airport and flight home. I recently presented at a meeting in Europe and was in the minority in my dark suit. Do you still wear a suit if you are giving a talk?