There’s Value in Attending Annual Conferences
by Shelby Frantz, MD
SIR, SPIR, ISET, LEARN, GEST, SIO, CIO, WAIS, CIRSE, and SPECTRUM are just a few of the key annual educational conferences dedicated to interventional radiology. Numerous additional symposiums and courses concentrate on each facet of radiology.
Attending my first IR conference as a medical student was one of my best decisions. It provided a glimpse into my future and offered friendship, mentorship, and the opportunity to meet interventional radiologists from across the nation. With approximately 3,000 practicing interventional radiologists in the U.S., we are a close-knit group. Just attend the opening plenary session at an annual SIR conference, and you will feel a sense of community. The camaraderie that comes with an in-person meeting cannot be matched virtually.
These invaluable interactions can enable you to discover mentors, serve on a panel, join a multicenter research project, or become part of a committee aligned with your interests. Moreover, conference settings offer ideal opportunities to meet leaders in the field and build your professional network, which could help you land your future job.
As a resident, I find it even more rewarding to attend annual meetings because the educational content is highly relevant. Presentations cover the gamut of IR including the latest research, treatment indications, protocols, and outcomes. However, not all sessions focus strictly on science and technique; many are dedicated to diversity, work-life balance, practice management, and other practical skills. I also enjoy supporting friends by attending their talks and catching up at the expo halls or social events.
Additionally, submitting research abstracts or educational exhibits to conferences can strengthen your CV. I recommend taking every opportunity to deliver oral presentations, as these can improve public speaking skills and stimulate discussion with colleagues. The interactive sessions and panel discussions often offer valuable insight into different techniques and practice patterns. There is a lot to learn from those who have come before us.
While some of these conferences can be large, that is where subgroups and committees shine. For an interventional-radiologist-in-training, the Resident, Fellow and Student (RFS) Section of SIR is a perfect place to start. For newly minted interventional radiologists, the SIR Early Career Section (ECS) provides helpful resources.
You might be wondering how to afford these conference trips on a resident salary. Many residency programs offer funding if you are presenting an abstract or poster. My program also sponsors us to attend one conference without a presentation. Furthermore, many societies and symposiums offer generous grants and scholarships for conferences and research projects.
Lastly, for medical students, there are symposiums across the U.S. dedicated to helping you decide if IR is right for you. Some medical student symposiums I attended include SEIRMSS, MIRMSS, and the medical student programming at SIR and SPECTRUM. These are excellent smaller settings where you can explore IR, find mentors, and make friends.
So, as long as another pandemic doesn’t come along anytime soon, make plans to attend at least one annual conference during training. You won’t regret it!
Shelby Frantz, MD, is a PGY-5 IR-Integrated Resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC). Dr. Frantz graduated from Georgetown University School of Medicine (M’18) and completed her internship in general surgery at VUMC. A native Floridian, her free time is spent on outdoor activities and traveling. She looks forward to beginning her job search this year. You can follow her on Twitter @shelbyfrantzMD.