Insights from a first-time attendee
Every year, the AAOS Annual Meeting provides orthopaedic surgeons and allied healthcare providers with a wealth of educational and networking opportunities. It's not surprising then that first-time attendee, Hayden Rockson, MD, a PGY-2 research resident at UMass Memorial's department of orthopaedics, was anxious to arrive in San Diego for the 2017 meeting. Dr. Rockson was the Academy's first social media correspondent on the AAOS Members Facebook and Twitter.
Unfortunately, Dr. Rockson's evening flight out of Boston on March 13—during the height of Winter Storm Stella—was diverted to an airport 2 hours north of San Diego. She was confident, however, that the resultant bus ride and early next day arrival into San Diego would be worth the inconvenience. Dr. Rockson planned to immerse herself in education at Annual Meeting to broaden her knowledge of orthopaedics and help solidify her decision on subspecialty training.
Dr. Rockson spent her first afternoon reading the poster presentations in Academy Hall. Although her interests lie in adult hip and knee reconstruction, she knew that the meeting was a great opportunity to explore other specialty areas. "The meeting muddied the waters in a wonderful way," she said. "I didn't want to close my mind to anything. Annual Meeting offers many intellectually stimulating opportunities that, in the end, could lead you to a great career.
"I had no idea of the scope and magnitude of the meeting," she added. "I knew it would be fantastic, but everything I experienced completely surpassed my expectations."
One of Dr. Rockson's favorite sessions was Ask an Expert, where attendees presented their toughest cases to experts for their input.
"The Ask the Expert sessions provided me with great context. You're not just looking at slides in a PowerPoint presentation; you're looking at real radiographs and real patient issues that we all face in our practice every day," she said. "I was impressed that the two experts who led the sessions could see something brand new [in the cases] and provide an answer on the spot."
Each year, Annual Meeting attracts world-renowned experts to discuss different perspectives, research, and opinions that provide attendees with a well-rounded educational experience.
"The meeting makes you a better surgeon because you are exposed to such a broad perspective of research and viewpoints," said Dr. Rockson. "Anytime we come together as a specialty to discuss things that impact us all, that is an important conversation in which to participate."
She added, "As residents, we tend to have a good idea of how we do things in our programs, but then you realize that people are doing one hundred different things in one hundred different ways. It's so refreshing to be able to engage in all of that in one location."
During the meeting, Dr. Rockson also set aside time to network and reconnect with colleagues. She participated in the 2nd Annual Resident Bowl with teammates from her residency program at UMass, and their team came in third place. "The Resident Bowl is my favorite memory of the meeting," said Dr. Rockson. "It was put together well and we plan to participate again next year."
When asked about her advice for other residents planning to attend Annual Meeting for the first time, she said, "Try everything. Try different formats of learning, spend an afternoon just reading posters. Go to a lecture that discusses things you don't see in your own program. Expand your mind, enjoy it, and soak it all in!"
Megan Lusk is social media channel specialist in the AAOS Marketing Department. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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