I attended my first CHEST Annual Meeting as a fourth-year resident: CHEST 2013 was held at McCormick Place in Chicago. I was stoked to be able to attend, but it was only for one night because I was on service. I presented a case report poster that was among the sea of other medical student and resident posters. I proudly wore my suit, which had gotten worn out during interview season while standing next to the poster, hoping no one would ask me a question about it.
People that I had interviewed with a month previously stopped by to say hi (as did my current program director and other fellows that I knew). I didn’t really experience what an annual meeting was because of my limited time attending. I was overwhelmed but felt the camaraderie of those attending. I needed an “annual meeting for dummies” book with instructions on how to navigate the meeting.
“I needed an “annual meeting for dummies” book with instructions on how to navigate the meeting.”
At the start of fellowship, we were encouraged to become nationally involved. One of my mentors is active in CHEST, so I naturally started to look for opportunities to be able to be more active in the organization. In the spring of 2015, I applied for a position on the Trainee Work Group and was appointed onto the work group. I could then attend the meeting in Montréal in 2015. I looked forward to Montréal as I now had an active role, even though I had not attended my first meeting with the other committee members yet.
My colleague and I stayed in a small boutique hotel offered by the conference that was only about a block away from the convention center; the Notre Dame Cathedral and so many wonderful restaurants and coffee shops were nearby. Not only did we learn a lot by attending the sessions during the meeting, but we experienced the attractions the city had to offer.
I referred to the sessions recommended by the Training and Transitions Committee and the Trainee Work Group as a starting point of what to attend that would be high yield. I witnessed how members make connections with others and started to learn how these networking opportunities build lifelong friendships and collaborations. The Trainee Work Group meeting was on the last day and I was excited to finally meet everyone. These are now people that I have turned to for support and they have helped me grow beyond my institution.
“These are now people that I have turned to for support and they have helped me grow beyond my institution.”
Luckily I was also able to attend CHEST 2016 in Los Angeles. I felt most at home during this meeting as I understood where to look for sessions that would be relevant to my interests and that I had an active role with presenting a session and moderating others. I also missed the people that I had developed friendships with in Montréal and was excited to see them again. Additionally, some of my colleagues from fellowship had moved away and I was able to visit with them during the meeting.
I look forward to the CHEST meeting not only for the high-yield educational value for keeping up to date in the clinical setting but also the ample opportunities for career development as a trainee and young faculty. An added bonus includes the friendships I have developed and am able to maintain by the CHEST meeting being a common ground where we can visit. Furthermore, it opens doors for networking with peers as well as potential mentors. I am looking forward to what Toronto has in store for us.