How to Conference

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

correctly!

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

or attended.

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!

 

Neil Doppler,

UAB School of Optometry Trustee

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