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Why Your Attendance at Medical Conferences Makes a Difference

What You Miss When You Aren’t There

By Raymond Lanzafame, M.D.

Besides the fact that almost every state requires that physicians complete CME credits for maintenance of your medical license (as well as board certification), actually showing up for a national medical conference is really critical for your career, whether you have many years of experience or only a few. Of course on line CME exists, but as you sit there, alone, staring at a screen, think about the fact that medical societies have gotten much better at putting on conferences in general.  Here is what you are missing by staying home:  

 1. You would have learned more.  Those who do attend conferences tend to have greater experience and social/educational skills, so it makes learning more interesting, more fun, and you can pick up more material because you are better engaged.  Also “catching up” with other professionals gives you added information that just doesn’t exist on a formal site.  It forces you to get out of your comfort zone and learn. 

Passive learning in front of a computer screen provides less-dynamic interaction with educational material—and you just wont remember much. Although we do have lecture formats – and for good reasons – we have many interactive classes, where you can engage in the discussion and gain a better understanding as a result.

2. You would have noticed that each conference is different—and those differences are enhanced in person.  At SLS, we can help you identify those specialists who benefit your patients; many that you hadn’t previously been aware of, or even find those within your own specialty, if necessary.  Each one opens up opportunities for sharing your medical knowledge and learning how other surgeons across the country tackle the challenges we all face.

3. You would have met new, powerful connections.  Knowledge and people build your career.  Use conferences to reconnect with colleagues and introduce yourself to new people, adding powerful connections.  Speaking with surgeons who have different patient populations and specialties allows you to expand outside the limits of your specialty.  MIS Week and other SLS conferences are especially good at this since we are a multi-specialty society.  General surgeons have lots of tricks in their bag, and knowing what they see regularly is of great value.

4. You’d know what’s true and what is false.  Fake News exists in medicine, too.  What’s true and false is best learned in discussion with leaders in medicine—and you find them at national medical conferences.  We all know the truth is often more complex than a headline.  These sessions may also provide more opportunities to get more involved in the issues that matter to you.  And live attendance gives you that context.

Staying up to date is also important.  It is tough to capture different perspectives on the newest trends in surgery if you aren’t live.

5. Last, you would have had fun.  I see the enjoyment in the eyes of those who take advantage of the (free) meals and entertainment, of those who are meeting new experts for the first time in a light atmosphere.

But nothing beats actually getting your hands dirty like live workshops.  You haven’t seen opportunities for developing these skills since residency, and it is rewarding to develop skills this way.   

While it may not always be convenient to come on by, there are so many opportunities at our conferences, you will miss a lot if you don’t get up from your desk and join us.

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