Networking Is Priority One When Attending Conferences as Medical Student
By Jordan Mackner
Late last year, I had the privilege of attending the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting, which is one of the largest medical conferences in the world. As a medical student, I find that attending conferences can be an overwhelming experience, but it can also be extremely rewarding.
One of the most fun and beneficial aspects of attending society conferences for medical students is networking. In my opinion, this should be the No. 1 goal at any conference as a medical student. Certainly, the lectures and presentations are beneficial for us, but you’ll be looking for a residency soon and it helps to know people! There is true magic in attending as many mixers, coffee breaks, lunches, dinners, and after parties as possible.
These conferences are your playground for growth. Be spontaneous, seize unexpected opportunities, and don’t stress about having all the answers. Embrace the chance to step out of your comfort zone, because that’s where the most significant growth and opportunities occur. If you’ve connected with mentors through virtual platforms like Zoom or social media, try to meet them in person. It’s a unique opportunity to transform virtual connections into real-world relationships and strengthen that mentor-mentee relationship. If you’re like me (introverted by nature), it can be uncomfortable. But the more I put myself out there, the more success I seemed to have. I think it’s the magic and energy in the air at RSNA, as I found everyone to be approachable and kind.
Continue to build your personal brand and extend your experience beyond the conference walls by engaging with the global radiology community on X (formerly Twitter). Share insights, ask questions, post pictures, and connect with other professionals who may or may not even be there. In fact, at RSNA, I was invited to an impromptu dinner event AND asked to write this post just by people seeing my interactions on social media. Don’t forget to tag others and use hashtags to expand your reach.
Most of all, remember to sit back, take a deep breath, and just enjoy the journey. Don’t stress about missing an event or not knowing what to say when your dream program’s director passes you in the hall. Have fun, savor the experience, give yourself some grace, soak it all in, and appreciate the fact that you’re on the precipice of an amazing profession.
Jordan Macker is a third-year medical student at the University of Arizona Phoenix campus. Jordan plans to pursue a career in diagnostic radiology. If you would like to learn more about Jordan and his medical school journey, please read this blog we posted last year.