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Attending Medical Conferences: A Great Way for Healthcare Professionals To Stay Up-To-Date on the Latest Research

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Attending medical conferences is a great way for healthcare professionals to stay up-to-date on the latest research, techniques, and technologies in their field. However, the amount of information presented at these conferences can be overwhelming, and it's easy to forget what you learned once you return to your daily routine.

Remember the most important thing you will do at the AAPA conference is see old friends and make new ones. Networking is not a waste of time. So plan on going and seeing some of the poster sessions for the “Meet the Author” opportunities. Find time for some of the receptions to rekindle old relationships. 

Try not to cram too many CME sessions into one day. But if you are looking to get the most CME out of your AAPA conference it’s important to have a plan for retaining and utilizing the information you learn at a conference. 

I like using a two-column list of things to stop doing and things to learn or improve upon. The two-column list strategy is a simple but effective technique that can help healthcare professionals retain and apply the information they learn at medical conferences. The strategy involves creating a list of two columns, one column for things to stop doing and another column for things to learn or improve upon.

In the "stop doing" column, PAs can list practices or habits they currently engage in that they want to stop or improve. For example, you might write "Utilize the up-to-date guidelines for antibiotics for UTIs”. 

In the "learn/improve" column, PAs can list new practices, techniques, or knowledge they gained at the conference that they want to implement in their practice. For example, you might write "New mammogram recommendations for women over 40".

By creating this two-column list, healthcare professionals can identify specific action items and goals to implement after the conference. This can help them focus their attention on what's most important, and make meaningful changes in their practice to improve patient care and outcomes.

  1. Prioritize sessions that align with your goals: Before the conference, take a look at the agenda and identify the sessions that will be most relevant to your practice. Prioritize these sessions and make sure you attend them, even if it means missing out on other sessions. But don’t be afraid to adjust your plan once you arrive.
  2. Don’t forget about the research events at AAPA. There are multiple opportunities to learn at the meet-the-author sessions. 
  3. Take breaks and avoid information overload: It's tempting to attend every session and workshop, but it's important to take breaks and avoid overwhelming yourself with too much information. Take breaks between sessions to process what you've learned, and use that time to review your notes or chat with colleagues. Overload is never good, and frankly a waste of your time.
  4. Go to the Exhibit Hall. A lot of networking happens there. Take advantage of the social events to make connections with colleagues who share your interests. A lot of this happens in the Exhibit Hall of the conference.

Following up after the conference is an essential step in retaining and applying the information you learned. It's easy to get back to your daily routine and forget about the things you wanted to implement or the connections you made during the conference. However, by taking the time to follow up, you can solidify the knowledge you gained and turn it into actionable changes in your practice.

Are you interested in writing about your experience attending a medical conference this year? Respond here.

Jennifer Coombs has received honorarium for CME teaching with Certified Medical Educators. She is currently employed by the University of Utah.

Image by VectorSpace06 / Shutterstock

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