With Optometry’s Meeting fast approaching, check out this article from the latest edition of Foresight:
Optometry conferences can be a daunting experience for a first-time attendee. With a plethora
of Continuing Education (CE) topics, social events and chances to network, it seems like there is
just too much to do each day. Hopefully this will give you a good guide on how to conference
To begin, you should start a conference by looking at the list of every event, prior to the
conference, and consult both friends and professors about it. If you’ve ever attended a music
festival, you surely know you must plan if you want to be able to catch all your favorite bands
and singers. Similarly, at a conference, there are non-stop events and you should sift through
them to get the best experience tailored to you. Many optometry conferences will have an app
that you can download on your phone to plan your conference schedule. Using this app is
highly recommended and will help in planning your conference experience.
As your building your schedule, you will notice it primarily consists of CE events and social
events. The CE and lectures are the individualistic aspect, where the social events are the other
aspect. For the CE portion, you will get the most out of it if you pick lectures that interest you.
Conferences are a great way to explore all your potential interests and future specializations.
Like a buffet, pick and choose whatever peaks YOUR interest. You will have a better conference
experience if you attend the lectures you want to attend, please don’t just follow your friends.
Then, there is the social aspect. This is the opportunity to have a great time with your friends.
Generally, there is one big event every night to look forward to, and some nights there are
more than one! Meet up with your friends and talk about all the awesome things you learned
The final aspect of an optometric conference is the networking. I can tell you from firsthand
experience that optometry is a very close knit profession. You can meet new people at any
point. I encourage you to drum up a conversation while waiting in line for coffee or with a
vendor in the exhibit hall. You never know when you might make a new contact, so please be
friendly and always have business cards (you can get some free as a student from the AOA!).
Conferences are a very tiring and rewarding experience in and of themselves, yet I always try to
do something outside the conference that is city specific. If you plan on going to Optometry’s
Meeting in Washington, D.C. then go see the monuments or catch a Nationals game. This is a
great bonus to a great conference and allows you to explore new cities!
All in all, while at a conference, you should be expanding your optometric learning and
network. You can have a great time if you are willing to pursue your interests and be outgoing
in meeting new people. So, if you’re ever at a conference, don’t be afraid to say hi to me!
UAB School of Optometry Trustee