During residency, as a resident, you likely had key conferences you attended throughout your training. The main meeting that most residents get the opportunity to attend is the winter American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) conference. The AAD is the biggest annual dermatology meeting worldwide. It draws participants from all over the globe and is packed with educational and social content.
Perhaps during residency you also attended a sub-specialty meeting if you were exploring your interest in a particular aspect of dermatology, such as research (Society for Investigative Dermatology – SID annual meeting), surgery (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery – ASDS or Mohs College), dermatopathology (American Society of Dermatopathology – ASDP), or pediatrics (Society for Pediatric Dermatology – SPD). There are an increasing number of dermatology conferences every year, and selecting which conference(s) to attend post-residency may be challenging when you don’t have the structured environment of residency guiding your conference selection process. Another conference to consider is ODAC (Orlando Derm Aesthetic Conference). This is a great meeting to stay informed and up-to-date on clinical updates, new treatments, new uses for old treatments, new product lines, changes to therapeutic guidelines and to witness live demonstrations from the experts.
This article is designed to provide guidance regarding some of the factors that may help you with the selection process of which conferences to attend. Some of the key factors I utilize in selecting which conferences to attend include: educational topics of interest; speakers of interest; if I am speaking or presenting research at the conference; and specific networking opportunities. Some additional conference factors that may help guide your selection process include location and duration of the conference, and the need for conference CME credit.
When choosing a conference to attend, a nice first step is to go to the conference’s or sponsoring society’s Website and review the program. First, you may want to figure out if the dates of the conference integrate well with your existing professional and family schedule. Then, what I do next is look at the conference organizing committee, speakers list, educational topics of discussion, and finally the specific program. One pearl that mentors have told me is that with the multitude of conferences today, there are a variety of educational opportunities at different venues and that you do not need to feel obligated to attend a conference for the entirety of the meeting.
Strategically planning which sessions are of primary interest to you can aid in your planning for attending a meeting. See if those sessions cluster on a specific day or span of days, and then attend the conference for that period of time.
Another main decision-making point for deciding which conference to attend is location. One of the main attractions for conferences as an attending is location. As an attending, you have the choice of whether to attend a specific conference, and that flexibility can be wonderful. Is the conference in a geographically desirable location for you that entices you to attend? Is the meeting in a part of the country that you never thought of visiting before, nor would have made a separate trip to see, and now are enthused to have a reason to visit? With regard to location, perhaps for some reason (often professional or family obligations) you prefer to remain close to home. There are a number of local and regional conferences that have started within the past few years. These regional meetings allow for a smaller, more intimate educational opportunity that often allows you to engage the conference faculty through direct questions during the presentation or extended conversations after their talk. Attending and participating in smaller local conferences may also provide the opportunity to get hands-on training learning new procedures or techniques, especially if volunteer patients attend and you are licensed in the state the conference is being held.