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Young Physicians Offer Tips for Attending Annual Meeting

With dozens of education sessions and networking events, and hundreds of exhibitors, the AAO-HNSF Annual Meeting & OTO EXPO℠  can be an intimidating event to navigate for long-time attendees, let alone those new to the meeting. However, younger AAO-HNSF members remember that pressure and are happy to share tips with their peers.

“One of the things people don’t think about enough is joining the Millennium Society,” said Meghan Wilson, MD, Chair of the Section for Residents and Fellows. “It is great deal because it costs only $250 for the year. The Millennium Society Donor Appreciation Lounge is a small setting where you can talk to people while they are taking a break from running point-to-point. And eating meals with people is a helpful way to start conversations.”

Joining the Millennium Society also helps attendees book rooms at better hotels, which actually pays off even if they are not always the least expensive hotels, said Larry Simon, MD, Chair of the Young Physicians Section.

“I suggest that you stay as close to the venue as possible,” he said. “You may find a cheaper hotel farther away, but staying close is well worth the money. If you are far away, it makes attendance difficult. If you can walk over, your schedule is more flexible and it is easier to network.”

Once you have registered for the meeting and reserved a hotel room, the next stop should be the Annual Meeting website to develop a schedule to follow during the meeting, said Jeffrey Liu, MD, Secretary of the Young Physicians Section.

“The online scheduler breaks courses down into tracks by areas of ENT from a clinical or business perspective,” he said. “Some Instructional Courses are given by young physicians, and those are flagged, so you can hear information from someone who is similar to you.”

Peter Vila, MD, the Board of Governors Legislative Representative to the Section for Residents and Fellows, said the emphasis in developing a schedule should extend beyond medical education.

“You should plan to go to talks you want to see, but you should not only focus on research,” he said. “I would recommend attending sessions on career advice or how to review papers. I also encourage people that if they want to get involved with research at the Academy level, go to a committee meeting in the first few days. You do not need to be a member, and it is instructive to sit in. If you want to participate, introduce yourself to the chair and offer to help in any way you can.”

That interactive approach also helps for education sessions.

“Don’t be nervous about walking up to presenters to ask questions after courses,” Dr. Simon said. “You should not be star-struck. Do not be afraid to introduce yourself to people and ask questions. The presenters and other leaders of our Academy are very nice people and will almost always be happy to speak with you. There is no reason to be intimidated.”

Finally, it is important to expand your network of peers by attending receptions and meetings related to topics of interest, from sections to research. Among the valuable networking events are the Presidential Reception, the Resident and Fellows Section reception, the ENT-PAC reception, and section meetings for Women in Otolaryngology, the Board of Governors, and the Young Physicians Section.

“There are some great receptions for networking,” Dr. Wilson said. “The PAC reception is one where people are very engaged and interested in meeting residents and fellows. You can get into some good conversations about jobs and contracting tips.”