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5 Ways on How to Continue Carrying the Momentum from the Scientific Sessions

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.

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10 Easy Ways To Make The Most Of Your Time At Scientific Sessions

Anyone who has attended any of the scientific sessions realizes very quickly that it is a marathon, not a sprint. We may have specific goals to accomplish while at the sessions so how can we make the most of our time? Although there is no one right answer, through my personal experience, I believe the following is a useful way to get started. 

 

  1. Take a look ahead – The sessions are jam packed with several sessions occurring at the same time or in overlapping times. If you look at the program ahead of time, you will be able to better organize your time and prioritize what sessions are going to be most beneficial. 
  2. Get the inside scoop – If you are a first-time attendee speak to your colleagues, faculty, and mentors who have attended scientific sessions about their experiences. By speaking to my mentors, I was able to get tips and tricks that helped me focus my energy on lectures that would be engaging and pushing myself to going to sessions that may be out of my comfort zone. Often, there are professional interest groups that you are able to attend to network or take a deep dive into specific topics. 
  3. Look good…feel good – I cannot count amount of times I have been thankful for wearing business casual to semi-professional clothes. You will be surprised at how often you will run into program directors, researchers, investigators, or others that could serve as a mentor. I always wear a dress shirt, blazer, and slacks when I am attending the sessions. If I am presenting then I will always have a tie. Trust me gents, it goes a long way.  
  4. Keeping it profession – To build on #3, keep plenty of business cards on hand. Each time I interact with anyone at the sessions, I give them my business card and ask for theirs. Fortunately, my fellowship provides me with business cards but if yours does not, you can easily make them at a low cost. I also then store the business cards in an app that helps keep them organized. This will help reach out to your network later and easily allow others to be able to reach you. 
  5. Team building – It’s been a tradition for UMass to have a team dinner at any and all scientific sessions. It’s a great way to discuss our day, see what our colleagues are engaged in, and what we are looking to accomplish for the remainder of the sessions.

    Team Dinner – continuing to bond, support, and encouraging.

  6. Engage in tech – The sessions have several platforms to enhance the experience. Specifically, apps are created to help improve the experience, provide maps (very helpful if you’re not familiar with the venue), and allow you to create a schedule to stay organized. Twitter is becoming a fantastic modality to stay informed of the most recent trails, engaging small group talks, or networking opportunities. 
  7. Network – The sessions are filled with a vast range of attendees. I always make an effort to introduce myself to anyone who is look at the same poster as me, sitting next to me at a session, or even getting coffee. Of course this requires us to get out of comfort zone but it becomes easier and incredibly fruitful. 
  8. Stay hydrated – I always bring a water bottle with me to the sessions. You will be going from session to session and forget to take care of your needs. A protein bar is also a great idea and may hold you over until you get to a proper meal. 
  9. Support your colleagues – If residents, fellows, or attendings are presenting at the sessions, I always try to make it. Not only does it give me a chance to engage in his/her research but also offers a chance to learn. We often are not familiar with the research our colleagues are undertaking but this gives the perfect opportunity to become more involved and potentially collaborate.

    Our fantastic medical student Benjamin Maxwell with our amazing faculty member Dr. Lara Kovell who has helped serve has a mentor roll.

  10. Enjoy!! No matter what happens or how prepared you are, enjoy the energy surrounding the sessions. This is a time for you to get excited about science, clinical trials, and celebrate the success in our field. I always come away with more than when I first arrived and use this momentum to continue to progress in my career. 

 

Attending scientific sessions is a time we get inspired, have renewed energy, and perhaps most importantly continue to grow professionally and personally. Hopefully gleaming from my experience will help enhance your own. 

 

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.