Rheumatology health professionals seeking continuing education should include the ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting on their list of must-attend meetings. No other conference offers more in rheumatic disease education and research, and this meeting provides a forum to network with over 11,000 physicians, scientists, and health professionals.
Patricia A. Boulton, RN, a hospital practitioner in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, attended her first annual meeting in 1997. More than 10 years later, Boulton says this meeting is still a major source of her continuing education.
“There are many reasons we should attend the annual meeting, such as learning the latest in rheumatology practice and research, continuing education needs, new networking opportunities, and employer requirements to attend in order to advance our career,” she states. “Where else can you have the opportunity to be educated by world experts, meet colleagues from around the world, share experiences, and have an unbelievably fun time?”
Judith DiBattista Lobus, CPC, AAPC, a practice administrator in Baltimore, attended the annual meeting for the first time last year. She was invited by her employer with the goal to gain as much knowledge as possible. She met many interesting practice administrators and professional providers and felt that the opportunity to network was among the top benefits of the meeting.
“Networking is so important, especially now because you are more apt to keep ahead of trends in healthcare when you are in touch with others in your specialty from across the nation,” says Lobus. She continues, “I’m looking forward to the upcoming annual meeting and the networking events.”
Lobus gained more clinical knowledge than expected. She learned how to score the Health Assessment Questionnaire and discovered the need for using other data-collection tools. Lobus adds that one of her favorite parts of the whole experience was “the feeling of respect given to practice administrators and managers, and better understanding their important role in providing optimal healthcare to their patients.”
The atmosphere at the annual meeting also has inspired Lobus to become more involved in advocacy, and she now pays close attention to politics surrounding healthcare and rheumatology practice issues and has actively written her congressional officials.
Tips for First-Time Attendees
Boulton and Lobus offer some first-time attendee tips to consider when preparing for the 2010 ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting in Atlanta:
- Don’t be afraid to attend the meeting by yourself; you will certainly build your professional and personal network. The ARHP offers an annual meeting orientation for first-time attendees, a Networking Forum breakfast, a Networking at Noon lunch, and several discipline-specific network events.
- Don’t wing it! Use the online Itinerary Builder, which allows you to plan your daily schedule. You will know exactly what your day holds and won’t be overwhelmed by making decisions on site.
- Print handouts for the sessions you’re attending in advance to avoid writing everything down. Remember, if you miss a session, you can access SessionSelect online for free, where you can hear the speakers and view their slides after the meeting.
- If driving, avoid traffic and parking congestion by arriving the prior evening. This will give you time to relax in your hotel and enjoy a southern meal.
- Dress comfortably and eat healthy foods for stamina—you will need it.
Both Boulton and Lobus walked away with more than they expected out of their first annual meeting. Don’t miss your chance to learn, network, and advance your career. Visit www.rheumatology.org/education to register today. If you are not a member, visit www.rheumatology.org/membership to join before registering to receive a significant membership discount.