The American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions is one of the biggest conferences in cardiology. It draws students, residents, fellows, affiliate practitioners, attendings, researchers, and so many more. Therefore, attending a conference of this caliber is a big deal! The event is full of intense information. New ideas. New contacts. New solutions. And, new found energy. Most of us are revitalized after any scientific session which I believe is due to a multitude of factors including: meeting experts in our field, seeing new clinical trials, attending small group sessions for a more intimate experience, and reconnecting with friends and colleagues. Eventually, the conference comes to an end and we go our separate ways. Seems as we get closer to home, the exhaustion from the trip and the ensuing clinical responsibilities become more of a reality. This massive surge of energy is quickly plummeting. As an early career FIT, we have several responsibilities that can quickly take away from the momentum we have built during the sessions so how do we continue to sustain it?
- Write: As soon as I get home or even every night at the conference, I jot down my thoughts. This helps me prioritize what is important for me to focus on once the conference is over.
- Speak to your program leadership: When I came back from AHA 19, I had an inform discussion with my program leadership on the entire conference and what I learned. Specifically, I used this time to discuss how I can accomplish the goals I have set forward. The leadership is well aware of the program strengths/weaknesses but more importantly, others who can help mentor me in achieving my goals.
- Debrief with your co-fellows: After the sessions, the entire fellowship class can get together to discuss ideas for quality improvement, collaborate research, or changes they would like to implement in the fellowship. This is a great way for junior fellows to start getting involved in existing projects if they feel starting one of their own will be too daunting.
- Reach out: Hopefully you were able to network while you attended the sessions. I always reach out to the people I met asking for advice or if they are looking to collaborate on projects. I’ll also reach out if I have a question regarding how to care for a complex patient – after all, the scientific sessions are a fantastic time to meet providers who are considered experts in their fields. This continues to foster a professional relationship for years to come. Conferences are a great time to see what is “hot” in cardiology and meet the individuals that are leading the charge. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to cultivate your career.
- Sign up For Another AHA Conference: Remembering how good I feel after a conference helps me stay motivated. Whenever I’m dragging my feet, I revisit the ideas I wrote down in the first point to remind myself how much I learned, wanted to accomplish, and the new network I created. Having another conference to attend helps me stay motivated and not lose steam on projects.
Hopefully, these five easy tips will help keep the momentum going strong long after the conference is over to continue to be successful.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this blog are those of the author(s) alone and do not represent those of the American Heart Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them. The Early Career Voice blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.
Barinder Hansra, known as “Ricky” to his friends and family, is a physician-scientist-teacher living his best life at University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester, MA. His focus is on cardiac critical care and cardio-obstetrics, and is headed to Stanford University for another fellowship. Follow on Twitter: @rickyhansra