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?


Anonymous said...

This is quite an interesting and fascinating intellectual experience. As an adult learner, broadening the knowledge toward other areas in which we are not familiarized can be challenging, but very stimulating.
Two weeks ago, I attended the ACP (American College of Physicians) meeting, with a strong emphasis on the Leadership track and medical education lectures.
I learned an impressive amount of new vocabulary, and as well different ways of expressing the ideas and approaching problems - I interacted with other colleagues in a Leadership workshop and found very stimulating the different approaches one can have to solve a particular problem - I enjoyed interacting with people from a variety of different academic and non-academic institutions.
I attended conferences on Healthcare reform, specialized on the patient-centered medical home, and it was very clarifying, because as a hospitalist I was not familiarized with all these new terms, as well as I find that we have as physicians a strong responsibility to advocate for our patients and our practice.
I missed the so sought upon "Multiple small feedings for the mind" in which most medical updates are presented, however, in the academic setting, we are generally well updated in medical science and not on leadership, mentoring theory, new ventures on medical education, and health reform issues.
The exposure to a different knowledge permits a more rounded experience and the newly acquired abilities can enhance not only the personal professional practice, but can benefit as well the institution the individual work at.
We should challenge ourselves to get out of the box and at least give us the opportunity of learning something new; it may be an adventure full of rewards.

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