By Hunter Gazda
Case report poster presentations help medical students’ professional development and can be a rewarding experience in many ways. As a medical student with a dream to enter a radiology residency, I came across many interesting cases on both my radiology and non-radiology rotations. I was fascinated by these cases and found that poster presentations were an ideal forum to spend more time studying them. Occasionally, my preceptors said we were looking at rare cases, but I was just as excited about the relatively common ones. In fact, I found value in writing and presenting these posters whether the case was a routine finding or something I may never see again. Presentations provide the opportunity to work with a team and practice different roles. You also have the chance to study something interesting while learning from colleagues and sharing information with the medical community.
The process of studying a patient case, performing a literature review, writing, and presenting a poster is important to learn and quite enjoyable. One aspect I found particularly rewarding was the opportunity to work with a diverse group of people with different levels of training. I worked with my medical school classmates as well as residents and attendings in various specialties. The team’s composition will vary with each project and often be multidisciplinary, which adds an array of perspectives and skills. Organizing and working with a team is one of the fun parts of the process.
When I led case report posters of my own or had the opportunity to work on other classmate’s posters, I saw the value that both situations offered in terms of assuming different roles within a team. On my first author presentations, I worked on leadership and organizational skills. Occasionally this was done in a small group, while other posters required input from many people. I felt proud when asked to help with a classmate’s poster presentation and gave my best effort while following their lead. Every day in medicine, we will work in teams of all sizes with people who have different strengths and thought processes, and we will be expected to assume appropriate roles. At times we will lead, but some situations will require us to follow others with more experience. The teamwork skills we learn throughout our career in different scenarios, such as writing a case report poster, will help with our goal of achieving the best patient outcomes.
Reviewing the literature and describing the radiographic findings was also personally helpful. As someone who will pursue a career in radiology, it was compelling to learn how the radiographic findings would be dictated. This provided a great opportunity to work with a resident or attending to critique my description and learn how they would describe the findings. Their genuine excitement to teach and make suggestions on the poster presentation content was sincerely appreciated. I was always proud of our posters, but it was especially rewarding to see the pride from other team members when they saw the finished product.
Preparing a case report poster that can contribute to medical knowledge is an invaluable project, because it provides the opportunity to strengthen your teamwork and leadership skills. There are numerous times in medicine when we will work in teams and being able to do so in multiple settings and roles is critical. There are personal benefits from the construction and presentation of the poster, and publishing your work allows you to contribute to the medical community. If you choose to do it again, you will be familiar with the process and can even help others get started. While the impact of your poster may vary, the value to you will be immense.
Hunter Gazda is a fourth-year medical student at West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He grew up near Dayton, Ohio, and earned his bachelor’s degree in biology from Miami University. He will be applying for a radiology residency this match cycle. Outside of medical school, he is an avid golfer who enjoys traveling to explore different courses.