“Get Dirty” at the ACR Annual Meeting

This post is based on my presentation for the Fellows-In-Training Educational Session.

With hundreds of scientific sessions covering virtually every topic in rheumatology, you might think that these sessions are the most important part of attending the ACR Annual Meeting. You would be wrong. Most sessions are available online for you to watch at home, at your own pace, in your pajamas.

Instead, you should focus your meeting on opportunities that are not available from your Mac.

My four suggestions to get dirty at the  Annual Meeting:

Get your hands dirty: shake hands with people you don’t know. The Annual Meeting is a wonderful opportunity to meet your rheumatology colleagues from across the world. You never know how you’ll land your next job, or with whom you’ll start a new research collaboration.

Spread dirty little secrets: use social media (eg. Twitter with hashtag #ACR14) to discuss things you learned during the conference. Not only will these tweets inform your colleagues who did not attend the session, but writing down the key aspects of a talk will help you consolidate the material and promote long-term knowledge.

Get down and dirty: several sessions at the Annual Meeting are highly interactive, and are not broadcasted online. These should not be missed! Such sessions include Workshops, Meet the Professor, Knowledge Bowl, poster sessions (ask questions!), and study groups.

Drink a dirty martini: take advantage of opportunities to socialize with your colleagues. We all work hard, but sometimes it good to relate to your colleagues on subjects other than rheumatology.