I attended my very first medical conference over Labor Day weekend, and it was awesome because:
- It was a medical conference
- It was a pediatrics medical conference
- It was a pediatrics medical conference at Disney World!
There were several interesting presentations, including one about medical marijuana use in children and another about childhood trauma. I learned so much not only about pediatric care, but also about what I will do when I attend my next medical conference.
What to Bring
Here are the items I wish I brought with me that didn’t occur to me while packing:
- A large, professional-looking bag. You’ll want something to carry around your note-taking supplies and various vendor goodies. I used the free bag they gave me at registration, but I wish I brought my big, structured bag for both fashion and function.
- Business cards. My school was generous enough to give each student a set of their own business cards, and I cannot believe I forgot these! They would have been great to have while networking with physicians, hospitals, and vendors.
- Breath mints. Due to lack of sleep, I drank a LOT of coffee at the conference. Although it kept me awake, I had a case of chronic coffee breath. I had gum, but I believe chewing gum is rather unprofessional compared to the discrete nature of breath mints.
- iPad. Lighter than a laptop and much more professional than using your phone during presentations. I would have liked to have this so I could take notes and look up articles and additional information on topics as they were being presented.
- Cardigan or blazer. If you get cold easily, bring a sweater or jacket with you. It gets chilly in the conference rooms!
What to Wear
- Comfortable shoes. Conference days are very long, and you will likely do a lot of walking. It’s probably not the best time to be rocking your new stilettos. Pick shoes with good arch support and ones you know won’t give you blisters after walking all day.
- Layers of clothing. It may be hot outdoors and cold indoors, so layers are the way to go to ensure your personal comfort.
- Professional attire. What you wear says a lot about you, and you will want to make a good impression among your future colleagues. My personal rule: wear clothes that you would wear with your white coat.
What to Do
- Take notes. There are so many great presentations, and you will want to remember them all. My conference sent us the powerpoint presentations after the conference, but you don’t want to bet on that happening every time.
- Talk to vendors. I felt weird about doing this because I am currently not a physician using these products, but I did it anyway. I figured that I will most likely be using those products some day. It was neat to learn more about the tools I will have available for myself and my future patients.
- Network. Talk to people! You never know what connections you will make.
- Have fun. What I enjoyed most about attending a medical conference is the fact that there are no grades or boards scores on the line. I could enjoy learning new things without the pressure to succeed. I got a glimpse into my future as a practicing physician, and it made me excited about medicine. Enjoy the conference, do fun things in the surrounding area, and just be a normal human being for once ;).