The most obvious way to get involved in any meeting is to create something. Submitting abstracts and case reports, research projects, pilot studies, and other work is a great way to build your CV, engage your colleagues, and get feedback on your work. For trainees, plan for this early. Submissions are due 6 months beforehand, so put this on your radar and buff up those interesting cases and research ideas and run with them!
Volunteering for a committee can be a great way to get involved in CHEST, open up new avenues for your career, and serve as a chance to put your stamp on the meeting; you could even submit a proposal for a session. This may sound daunting, but be creative and think about what you would like to see at the meeting. There are many different session types so as you stroll through the meeting, brainstorm for next year—CHEST attendees, share your interests so the next great session may as well be your idea! An important consideration is that session planning starts even earlier—proposals for next year are often due a few months after the meeting.
With thousands of attendees, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd; however, the opportunity to make new connections and strengthen old ones are ubiquitous. You may run into old colleagues or make new acquaintances and set up collaborations.
For those in training, this is a great opportunity to take note on how different institutions are represented by the scope of their posters and presentations. It’s also a snapshot of the scholarly work of the faculty and fellows in these programs and worth striking up a conversation—that could be you in a few years!
I also personally enjoy attending the NetWork Trainee Mixer where I can interact with other trainee members and connect with NetWork leaders face-to-face. You can also meet other trainees from around the country at the Trainee Recharge Lounge. Having a dedicated space for trainees allows all of us to talk on a personal and professional level outside of our normal work environment.
Plan Ahead (and Get the App)
Gone are the days of waltzing casually from session to session and plopping down in the front row. The Los Angeles Convention Center has >720,000 square feet and with more than 400 general sessions, CHEST 2016 is going to be huge. To maximize efficiency, and pique your interest, review the program beforehand and plan out some highlights for yourself.
Instead of the printed program, I mostly rely on the CHEST Events app (for Apple or Android), which has links to session abstracts, includes a schedule planner, and allows you to search by day, presenter, and topic. The Training and Transitions Committee creates a Trainee Program Guide with “must-see” events and ways to get involved with CHEST, so keep an eye out for this as the meeting draws near.
Bring your eagerness, approach everything with an open mind, and be inspired by the ideas and exciting work of your colleagues. Also, make some time to see the local sights and food and culture and remind yourself do not to let this get in the way of your education. For me, coupling this enthusiasm and newfound knowledge helps stimulate my next ideas, elevates my bedside care, and keeps me coming back.
See you in October!
James Town, MD, is a third-year pulmonary and critical care fellow at the University of Washington. He attended medical school at Brown University and completed his residency and chief residency at the University of Chicago. He is interested in optimizing resident and fellow education in the clinical learning environment.