I have come to look forward to the annual International Stroke Conference each year. Due to the largess of my mentors and support of my residency program, I have had the good fortune of attending the conference each year since my third year of residency. As a third-year resident, I had decided to pursue fellowship training in vascular neurology, and attending the conference amplified my enthusiasm for the field and inspired me to contribute to stroke science. This fueled my passion for stroke research, which ultimately led me to my current fellowship in stroke and neuro-epidemiology at Columbia University.
First, I want to advocate for resident-level participation in the conference. Exposure to late-breaking science, hearing from leaders in the field, and socializing with members of your institution’s stroke division – these are invaluable opportunities. Now, returning for a third time, I have begun to feel a member of the community. Early attendance may inspire residents to pursue research and provide them with a sense of the scope of current investigation and the priorities of the field.
This years, as a fellow, I attended the conference with more specific goals. I outlined research areas that I am interested in and scrutinized the program in advance to identify key talks and poster presentations. This allowed me to identify opportunities for future study and to meet individuals to collaborate with. Equally importantly, I had a reunion with friends and classmates from medical school and residency. Speaking with friends 1-3 years ahead in their careers is particularly informative because they provide good guidance. Last, the release of game-changing data created an electric atmosphere that motivated me and surely other early career attendees as well.
Some of my early career colleagues have reported avoiding the conference when not presenting data. For the reasons outlined above, I encourage residents interested in stroke and stroke fellows to attend and earnestly participate regardless of whether they have data to present. I also encourage program directors and chief residents to encourage resident participation and to make schedule adjustments to permit attendance. Medical students should be similarly included.
I look forward to attending the conference in Honolulu next year!
Neal S. Parikh, MD, earned his MD from Weill Cornell Medical College and completed residency training in neurology at the same institution. He is now an NIH T32 neuro-epidemiology and vascular neurology fellow at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. He tweets @NealSParikhMD and contributes to Blogging Stroke as a blogger.