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Scientific exhibits are just one of the many learning opportunities for residents in Academy Hall.

AAOS Now

Published 12/1/2015
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Megan Lusk

Tips for Your First AAOS Annual Meeting

A resident member shares her insights

The AAOS Annual Meeting draws more than 30,000 participants each year, and offers an enormous variety of opportunities for education, networking, and learning about the latest products and services in the exhibit hall. Such an event can be intimidating to first-time attendees, especially residents.

Recently, I spoke with Catherine Logan, MD, MBA, MSPT, the resident member of the Annual Meeting Committee, on how first-time attendees can make the most of the AAOS Annual Meeting.

Q. Which was your first Annual Meeting?

Dr. Logan: My first meeting was in 2012, which was my final year of medical school. I applied through the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society (RJOS). Medical students can apply for scholarships to attend the meeting and be exposed to what orthopaedics is like. I was very excited to attend.

Q. What do you wish you had known before you arrived?

Dr. Logan: I wish I had spent more time reviewing all the opportunities available, as well as the layout of where everything would be. Beyond the events with the RJOS, I hadn't really made any plans. Although you don't want to be overscheduled, I think you should at least arrive with a better sense of all the opportunities.

Q. What was your initial reaction on-site?

Dr. Logan: When I first arrived, I realized that it is an extremely large international meeting. I understood that there were a ton of opportunities to learn, network, and be inspired.

If you're not prepared, the AAOS Annual Meeting can be a little overwhelming. It pays to at least understand the types of sessions, as well as what's in Academy Hall versus what's in the Exhibit Hall.

Q. Were you at all intimidated by the size of the meeting?

Dr. Logan: It's just exciting. You feel so inspired and have the opportunity to learn from the people who are publishing articles in major journals. It's very inspiring, especially your first time. You can experience a tremendous amount of growth during the meeting and you're excited to apply it in practice.

Q. How do you recommend that residents plan their Annual Meeting schedules?

Dr. Logan: I found the Academy's Resident Track guideline helpful. I didn't follow it exactly, but it provided an initial framework to build on. That's a good start.

I also recommend that residents peruse the website to see everything the Academy is offering, as well as chat with the senior residents and fellows who attended the previous year. Ask what they found valuable and what they enjoyed.

Q. The Annual Meeting aims to offer education for every career level. Which courses and sessions at the Annual Meeting would you recommend to residents?

Dr. Logan: From my perspective, for a first meetingd, it's wise to attend all types of sessions, including the lecture-based and interactive sessions, to get the full meeting experience. Certainly residents should make time to visit the posters and scientific exhibits, and to take in the Orthopaedic Video Theater. Go to the exhibit hall to peruse the industry and the educational booths.

I don't think residents should limit themselves to "resident-appropriate" courses. I would encourage residents to attend lectures given by thought leaders, even if the topic is above the resident level. I think it's really valuable to hear these talks and experience what future meetings will be like. I think it's wise to have a nice mix of session types.

Even if the content is too high level, if that particular speaker or thought leader is of interest and discussing something that is maybe more cutting edge, it's still a valuable use of time. Just don't overwhelm your schedule with those sessions. Some sessions are really for experts and experienced surgeons. I don't think you need to eliminate them, just limit the number you attend.

Q. Which activities at the Annual Meeting present the most valuable networking opportunities for residents?

Dr. Logan: We now have the Resident Assembly (RA), which is open to all residents, even those who are not delegates. I think that will be a great opportunity to meet other residents from around the country and to learn about RA opportunities and committees. If you can work on something throughout the year, that enables you to keep in touch with different residents to support specific Academy goals. I found the RA was a great way to meet people.

Academy Hall is great for individuals interested in self-directed learning. It includes the Career Center, with job opportunities and postings, enabling residents to meet with future employers.

It's also important to key into the Annual Meeting Twitter and Facebook accounts. That will ensure you receive communications about different happenings that are going on, and to be aware of ongoing events.

Q. How should a first-time attendee prepare to navigate the meeting easily, given its size?

Dr. Logan: I think it's just about doing your homework. The Academy website has well-worded descriptions of the different session types and the potential audience. Having an understanding of the difference between an Instructional Course Lecture and a symposium, as well as the intended audience for each, is helpful. Building an agenda with the My Academy app may be helpful, but leave some time to browse.

Q. Any final advice to a first-time attendee?

Dr. Logan: Just enjoy yourself, try not to get too overwhelmed, don't overschedule, and give yourself at least an initial framework. If you know what's available, even if you don't fill out your schedule entirely, you can make a more educated decision about what to attend.

For more information on the 2016 AAOS Annual Meeting, visit www.aaos.org/annual

For more information on the Resident Assembly, visit www.aaos.org/resident

Megan Lusk is the social media channel specialist in the AAOS Marketing Department.