Friday, May 14, 2010

More Thoughts about Conference Attendance

Last week while Lily was attending the AERA conference, I attended the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. As a PhD medical educator, I was in the minority as most of the attendees were pediatricians in academic medicine. I must admit that I felt like a bit of a fish out of water when I first looked through the program guide as many of the sessions were scientific presentations with titles containing unfamiliar terms and acronyms. I was worried about whether I really belonged at this conference. Upon closer inspection, however, I identified lots of sessions related to medical education including topics such as reflective practice, developing measurement tools in education, and giving feedback. I decided to attend a mixture of sessions with most related to education along with a few scientific presentations and public health sessions in hopes of experiencing the “big picture” of pediatrics.

At the end of four days, I left the conference with a much greater appreciation for the educational issues that are of interest within pediatrics and the larger context in which they exist. A consistent theme was the need for the evaluation of educational interventions to build an evidence-base for educational activities that could be shared across programs.

I, like Lily, came away from the meeting more aware of the benefits of thinking about medical education through a lens other than the one in which I am trained and more convinced of the need for collaboration between those trained in medicine and in education.

We are wondering what your experiences are in attending conferences outside your area of academic expertise and what were the important takeaways from those meetings for you? Are there conferences that you would recommend to your colleagues in medical education?

Medical Education Conferences: Which meetings to attend and why?

This entry is a post from Lily .

Christine and I attended the AERA (American Educational Research Association) annual meeting in Denver the first week of May. For those of you unfamiliar with AERA, it boasts 25,000 members who are dedicated to educational scholarship and learning. The group is diverse, including educators, administrators, public employees, researchers, psychometricians, behavioral scientists and students. The AERA is committed to scholarly inquiry related to education and evaluation.
This was my first time attending AERA, and I was privileged to present a paper on our Cleveland Clinic REALL (Resident Educator and Lifelong-Learner) Program during a Division I (Education in the Professions) session entitled “Means and Effects of Scholarly Teaching.” Our project was was well-received and I got valuable feedback from the chair of the session, Casey B. White (University of Michigan Medical School), and Luann Wilkerson (UCLA). The feedback from these individuals was very specific and detailed. You could tell that they had read the paper thoughtfully and carefully. Drs. Wilkerson and White took their responsibilities to heart - they had much to offer in the areas of scholarship in medical education, using theoretical constructs and applying these theories to practice. They analyzed our REALL project within these frameworks.
I also chose to participate in Division I's pilot program, Peer Review and Feedback on Junior Scholar's Presentations, an interactive program where I obtained a critique of my presentation skills from Dr. Ann Frye (UT Galveston). Of course, I had the obligatory audio-visual problems from the get-go (there were 3 different feeds into the LCD projector, 2 Mac computers and my Windows netbook, which the AV assistant cursed because his fingers were bigger than the keyboard!) Dr. Frye offered me several useful tactics to improve my presentation style. As my background and education are based in clinical medicine, many of the topics and sessions at AERA were new to me. I found this meeting to be very different from the AAMC and CGEA; the vast majority of the topics fell outside the medical field – with Special Interest Groups such as Constructivist Theory, John Dewey Society, Motivation in Education, just to name a few. Like many doctors, I seem to attend the same meetings mechanically year after year, listening to the same people talk. Attending this one was an eye-opener, and a great opportunity for cross-fertilization of ideas. I encourage you to check it out at and consider attending the 2011 meeting in New Orleans, April 8 - April 12.Lily