I don’t know how many of you have already browsed the “Medical Students, Residents, and Fellows Guide” for the 69th Annual Meeting of the AAN here (https://www.aan.com/conferences/2017-annual-meeting/residents-fellows-guide/), but it has some great introductory information. This blog post is only meant to complement that resource.
Your first tip is to download the mobile app to the 2017 AAN Annual Meeting (https://www.aan.com/conferences/2017-annual-meeting/download-the-mobile-app/). It gives you access to the overall schedule of the events, lists of speakers and attendees, and even a City Guide to Boston for all you outsiders, like me. Once you download this app, everything is much simpler.
HOW TO FIND THE ABSTRACTS/TALKS THAT INTEREST YOU
Last year, there were over 2,700 abstracts published in the form of posters or oral platform presentations. If you were to spend only 1 minute reading each of these abstracts, it would have taken you more than 45 hours to get through all of them! So how can you find the abstracts that interest you? Well, here are the two ways I go about it:
First, I search through the abstracts by topic (for me, cerebrovascular disease). This can be done quickly and easily in the app, by using the “Filter” icon in the bottom right corner. Otherwise, you will have to review the platform presentation topic headers in the paper guidebook you receive at Registration. Then I narrow the list of presentations down by dates, times, and whether they conflict with other plans I make at the conference. For instance, you might plan to attend the Vinyasa Yoga class on Sunday at 7am, and this would interfere with the scheduled didactic session by Drs. Pandolfo and Pulst on “Cerebellar and Afferent Ataxias.” So be aware of all the opportunities that this conference has to offer, and choose the topics of greatest interest to you.
Second, I search the list of authors by last name in the index of the conference guide, or the mobile app. Find the author list under the “Speakers” tab, and you can see where they will be. Networking is an important function of the annual meeting. Searching for names is important if you would like to attend sessions conducted by a potential future mentor (e.g., fellowship program director or division chief) or a potential collaborator. This is where a business card might come in handy, especially if you are looking for a job out of residency or fellowship. So bring a couple of these on your trip to Boston.
A pro tip here is to prepare in advance for who you want to meet and whose research you want to see before you even get to Boston. It’s not a bad idea to send an email request for a time to meet for a coffee or brief chat after a presentation. In general, these people are going to be much busier than you at these conferences, so recognize that their time with you is quite valuable. If you successfully made some contacts with potential mentors, research collaborators, or future employers, remember to touch base with them a few days after the conference to seal the deal. Remind them of your encounter, what you hope to achieve by working with their group, and be sure to thank them again for their time.
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Besides the tips of meeting other attendees at the AAN, and in addition to all the incredible scientific programming, you might consider attending any of these featured events. These events are often well attended and another potential networking opportunity:
– Neurobowl (Sunday, April 23, 6-8pm): An enjoyable opportunity to watch the brightest neurology minds compete over the most incredible minutia of clinical neuroscience.
– Exhibit Hall Networking Reception (Monday, April 24, 4:30-6pm): An ideal place to meet POAs or gain intel on career decision making.
– Run/Walk for Brain Research (Tuesday, April 25, 6:30-8:30am): This is a 5k run or 1mile walk for a small $50 registration fee. Bus service will be provided from the conference to the starting line for all event participants.
– Closing Party Happy Hour (Friday, April 28, 5:30-7pm) featuring live music by NeuroJazz. Each attendee gets a free ticket to this event, and guests can attend for only $50.
I hope this is a helpful start for you. Enjoy the 69th Annual Meeting of the AAN in Boston!