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Why I Attended a Conference About Antimicrobial Stewardship

I recently had the opportunity to present at and attend my first Making A Difference in Infectious Diseases (MAD ID) conference in Orlando. This conference bills itself as The Antimicrobial Stewardship Conference, and after attending, I can attest that it lives up to its name. This is a smaller scale conference, so many may not have heard of it, but there are some great reasons to attend in the future.

It’s More Intimate

With an average attendance of around 500 people, it’s smaller in scale compared to IDWeek or ASM Microbe. This makes it a lot less intimidating! The sessions aren’t overwhelming, there is opportunity to interact with faculty and ask questions, and you tend to see many of the same faces over the course of the conference. To me, this translated into an enjoyable and meaningful conference.

The Content Is Applicable

Whereas some meetings have “nice to know” cutting edge content, the focus of this meeting is really preparing the clinician to become an active member of the stewardship team. The first few session offerings are workshops. As a presenter, the message was sent loud and clear that I was to do minimal speaking and maximize the active learning! Attendees are able to attend four different workshops on a focused topic, that results in at least one actionable item the participant can bring back to their institution. I led the sessions on formulary management, where we used drug shortages to frame the discussion. Attendees were asked to share a drug they are having or have had issues obtaining, something that helped them overcome that shortage, and something that they need or needed to overcome the shortage. One takeaway I left with was that so many institutions are having similar struggles, and that it is important to have communication forums such as this, to learn from each other.

Other sessions focused on daily interactions that can result in establishing stewardship practices in previously unserved areas or incorporating stewardship metrics in their annual reports. Each session came with worksheets that attendees filled out specific to their institution. Another session had each table designated as a different inpatient unit type. They were provided with a “problem” scenario and were asked how they would work together to support a specific stewardship initiative. I admit. I used to be a skeptic of filling out these activities at conferences. But after four days of constant learning, having tangible sheets, notes, and steps to bring back to your workplace is invaluable! These workshops alone are worthy of a standalone conference. What is unique about MAD ID is that these workshops are included in your conference registration and are not additional purchases or add-ons.

The Faculty Are Superb

The variety and expertise of the faculty is top notch. Each faculty presents at several sessions, so you have multiple opportunities to learn from them. The planning committee at MAD ID makes a conscious effort to be as geographically diverse, practice site inclusive, and to have a physical representation of all attendees present. One of the most commendable – and as an audience member, the most impactful – speaker selections each year is to have a patient advocate featured as speaker. Hearing first-hand how our line of work has positively or negatively impacted another human life is both humbling and invigorating to continue in our chosen profession. It is the spark we need to combat the burnout and fatigue we may be experiencing.

Who Should Attend?

This meeting would benefit many different professions! Because of the applicability of the sessions, anyone who is early in their stewardship career should attend. Pharmacists or physician stewardship champions in their first five years of practice would benefit greatly. As would nurses and hospitalists who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the administrative or operational side of stewardship, or for microbiologists who haven’t had the opportunity to learn about the clinical side of stewardship. Institutions that use their frontline pharmacy staff as stewardship extenders, but who haven’t had formal ID training, would be able to fast track their competency. Without a doubt, this meeting is great for trainees. Students, interns, residents and fellows who are competing their training would benefit from learning from the faculty, establishing connections and networking, and showcasing their research.

Will I Attend in the Future?

There are some many valuable conferences vying for our limited time and budgets. Overall, I was very pleased with my time and learning at MAD ID. This is a conference I will be adding to my future rotations.

Illustration by Jennifer Bogartz

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