The Value of Professional Meetings

I had the pleasure of catching up with many of you at the AAP National Conference and Exhibition in Chicago in September. Pediatricians often ask me why they should attend this conference. In the early part of my career, I wondered the same thing. There is much to be gained by attending professional meetings including education, advocacy and networking experiences.

Professional education opportunities abound at the NCE. You can learn about best practices for treating common conditions, meet the Redbook Committee authors (and get a chance to personally ask them questions), or attend a half day event on incorporating behavioral health into your primary care practice. Not only can you solidify some diagnosis and treatment skills, you have the opportunity to explore aspects of pediatric practice that you may not see very often, but find interesting. I had the opportunity to attend a session on pediatric hypnosis, which I found fascinating. A pediatric pulmonologist from Syracuse discussed how he treats anxiety, chronic headaches and abdominal pain by empowering children to use their mind and positivity to minimize their symptoms. This is now an unexpected future interest for me.

Many folks ask “What does the AAP do for me?” Let me remind you, if you are a member, you ARE the AAP. There has been an incredible amount of recent advocacy for children and pediatricians led by staff and volunteers like you and me this past year. Did you see AAP’s Dr. Fernando Stein’s response to hardships for immigrant children? Were you part of the social media campaign to #KeepKidsCovered? The AAP’s CEO, Dr. Karen Remley, has made a pledge for our organizational responses to be “first, right and credible.” At the NCE, you get to meet your leaders and voice your concerns. Many of them are volunteers like us!

Networking with pediatricians from all over the country (and world!) invigorates my love of our profession every time I attend. Sharing challenges, strategies, stories and connecting with others who are passionate about their patients and our profession is not only fun, but important in our fast-changing healthcare environment. Discussing how to incorporate part-time pediatricians as part of your staff, how to add nurse practitioners or physician assistants, when and how to grow your practice, and how to remain independent makes you feel certain that you are not alone. Trading email and phone information allows you to follow up with new contacts for the rest of the year. I routinely take pictures of new friends with their cards so I can put a name with a face in the future. This year I met a young woman finishing up her residency who thinks she wants to start her own practice. I met another pediatrician in the middle of his career who is tired of working for a healthcare system and wants to explore other professional avenues. Probably the most exciting thing for me, is that I am now at the point in my career where I can share experiences and connect people to each other. But I still meet new people and learn something new every time I attend. Won’t you join me next year?

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