A Quick Guide to Success at Your First ACR Annual Meeting
There are many radiologic societies with yearly meetings, but the ACR’s annual meeting stands out as a particularly dynamic event. From the visit to Capitol Hill to the vast array of attendees from both private and academic realms; from personalized mentorship to high-level educational sessions – there’s something for everyone at the ACR annual meeting. As a first-time attendee, the primary question you should ask yourself is, “Why am I attending the ACR annual meeting?”
Having a well-defined response to this question is vital, because the only effective way to approach such a diverse conference is to come with a plan. This plan can include:
- Developing new skills
- Understanding what your ideal future career looks like
- Meeting your lifelong mentor/mentee
Start creating a plan for the conference by reading the monthly issues of the JACR® and visiting the RFS Website to familiarize yourself with current issues and member resources. Arriving at the conference with a plan requires preparation. Be sure to review the conference programming ahead of time and create a list of events you plan to attend based on your interests and goals for the conference.
Once you’re there, remember how important it is to put yourself out there. It can be intimidating, but it’s worth it! The ACR leadership is uniquely approachable, so introduce yourself, have conversations, ask questions, and stay curious. The radiologists attending the meeting are there to build the future of radiology, which includes meeting and engaging with you! The decisions made by ACR will influence your daily life as well as your career, and it is to your benefit to have knowledge of the issues at hand.
Keep in mind that the benefits of attending the ACR annual meeting only begin at the conference. The real career growth occurs after the event, which is why follow-up is key! Ask people for their contact information and follow-up within a reasonable period of time – usually within a week of meeting them. Reasons to follow-up can include:
- Development of a professional relationship
- Working on projects together
- Future career opportunities
- Further involvement in organized medicine
Thanks to the follow-up from my first ACR meeting, I’ve become involved in the reimbursement committee of the economics commission, which includes the privilege of participating in the process by which radiologic exams are valued. This
has been a unique and novel career experience that will certainly shape my future, and it can be attributed (at least to some extent) to timely and persistent follow-up.
With your follow-up, remember to be reliable and patient. You are unlikely to leave the meeting with a committee appointment and, in fact, most committee appointments only happen on one-year cycles. The process of involvement in organized medicine is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are reliable, take on projects you are passionate about, and find mentors who are willing to guide you, progress and success will soon follow.
Overall, simply have fun and enjoy the process! The ACR annual meeting includes an amazing group of people who value (and craft) the future of radiology. It is a place to put day-to-day work into perspective, set new goals, and meet lifelong friends.
Summary for Success:
- Define your reason for attending the meeting
- Come with a plan
- Remember to put yourself out there
- Follow-up is key
- Be reliable and patient
- HAVE FUN!
Ronald W. Mercer is a resident at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.