I recently attended a conference in Toronto that got me thinking about medical conferences in general. Like, why do we attend? Education? To enhance travel plans? To mix with colleagues? Or just to get away from the office for a few days? Conferences seem to be improving with time as quality education becomes more of a priority in our profession. However, conferences do seem to share many similarities.
It all starts with the registration process—hey, why do paramedicals get a break on conference fees? Don’t they take up the same amount of room and fill a seat? Maybe doctors aren’t as smart and pay more because we need more education. And how about those “special” conference hotel room rates? I find if I reserve on my own without the Dr attached to my name I often receive a cheaper rate. Has anyone else ever noticed that booking conferences always seems like a good idea until the time actually comes to do so? You have two equally unappealing choices. Book locally and either miss a day in the office, aggravating your staff and patients, or give up part of your precious weekend. Or else, travel with the misguided idea you are getting a vacation until you find yourself in a nondescript room listening to Urinary Incontinence in the Elderly while your spouse/partner frolics in the pool or lies on the beach sipping one of those little drinks with umbrellas in them.
When registration morning finally arrives you are handed your package and name tag. Why the tags? Speakers seldom make us stand up after reading our name and say, “Bobby, would you like to share that with the rest of the conference?” I mean really, the people you know, you know, and those that you don’t know, you can choose to meet. For a while now I have been suspicious that the tags are to alert hotel staff to raise prices when they see you coming.
And why do some doctors have a stethoscope around their neck during the conference? I know what you are going to say: they might have to leave to attend to urgent serious doctor business. That’s all well and good, but their name tags usually indicate that they are from out of town. The jig is up.
How about the obsessive compulsive note takers who write everything down on the syllabus page, which contains that exact information?
And don’t you love question period, where some physicians ask questions motivated by an inflated sense of self-importance? “Do you think it is relevant that while I was moving my Nobel Prize the other day I discovered that I have extensive notes on this subject and know more than you do?”
I often feel sorry for the first speaker after lunch. I think conferences should take a page from preschool and give us a mat to nap on while someone is droning on about lipid metabolism.
As the afternoon wears on there is the inevitable door prize draw to look forward to. Why does everyone clap? Are they happy that the textbook or gift basket went to a nice home?
Finally, what conference would be complete without the course evaluation—score between 1 and 100, where 1 equates to a hemorrhoidectomy without anesthesia and 100 if you got lucky.
Conferences, of course, are an invaluable way of learning about new studies, diagnostic tests, treatments, clinical pearls, and more. Mixing with your colleagues during breaks often allows you to catch up on their professional and personal lives. Opportunities to network often present themselves and one might even take the opportunity to solicit articles for a famous provincial medical journal. Speaking of the BCMJ, our conferences are entirely different from those referenced here—we don’t have door prizes.
1. I have nothing against the elderly.
2. I don’t know what that is because I am just a GP.
3. You know who you are.
4. In referring to preschool, I meant the nap, not a talk on lipids.
5. This is up to your interpretation.
6. Our second incredibly popular sold-out conference is a Galapagos cruise in April.
7. Yes, I recently discovered footnotes in Word.
Above is the information needed to cite this article in your paper or presentation. The International Committee
of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) recommends the following citation style, which is the now nearly universally
accepted citation style for scientific papers:
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Caplan AL, Marion DW, Palmer AM, Schiding JK, et al. Solid-organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002;347:284-7.
About the ICMJE and citation styles
The ICMJE is small group of editors of general medical journals who first met informally in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1978 to establish guidelines for the format of manuscripts submitted to their journals. The group became known as the Vancouver Group. Its requirements for manuscripts, including formats for bibliographic references developed by the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM), were first published in 1979. The Vancouver Group expanded and evolved into the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE), which meets annually. The ICMJE created the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals to help authors and editors create and distribute accurate, clear, easily accessible reports of biomedical studies.
An alternate version of ICMJE style is to additionally list the month an issue number, but since most journals use continuous pagination, the shorter form provides sufficient information to locate the reference. The NLM now lists all authors.
BCMJ standard citation style is a slight modification of the ICMJE/NLM style, as follows:
- Only the first three authors are listed, followed by "et al."
- There is no period after the journal name.
- Page numbers are not abbreviated.
For more information on the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals, visit www.icmje.org