Blog | Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What do internists take home from medical conferences?

I attended a local conference today sponsored by our Department of Pediatrics and Riley Hospital for Children. Many of our residency graduates, especially those who live and work locally, return for this meeting. It really is great to see our graduates and what they are up to. I enjoy hearing about how they have transitioned to practice, and learning about their own successes and challenges.

This particular year, I was not a presenter, nor did I run any workshops. I went to this conference strictly to learn. It was simply wonderful to do so. The day started off with a dynamic visiting speaker reflecting on the state of well child visits and potential innovations around how to be more effective with these, especially given the changes in medicine that are occurring and will continue to occur.

One might think that this topic is not all that interesting (which the speaker himself even acknowledged). Plain and simple, I was inspired! It brought me back to why I chose to go into medicine in the first place: to make a difference. Other extremely well-presented sessions reminded me of things I should be doing when encountering patients with specific conditions. A lunchtime talk on mentoring solidified a successful day for me (and that was only halfway through the day!). Other great "high-yield" topics in the afternoon piqued my interest as well.

When some people come back from conferences similar to this one, they realize that while the conference was wonderful, there is still a stack of paperwork that needs to be completed, that there is more work to be done, patients need to be seen, and e-mails must be answered. I also have all of those things looming over me. But I also gained a sense of purpose, connectedness, and excitement for the future of medicine from the conference. In addition, I learned some new things, was reminded of things I should already know, and also heard about changes coming in the future.

What do you get out of going to conferences besides the acquisition of information? What other "informal curriculum" things get you jazzed up, and how can conference organizers effectively capture that for other attendees? I am curious if others see this similarly or differently.

Alexander M. Djuricich, MD, FACP, is Associate Dean for Continuing Medical Education and a Program Director in Medicine-Pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. This post originally appeared at Mired in MedEd, where he blogs about medical education.