Residents need to make a big decision. At some programs, each resident can attend one academic conference during the four years of residency without presenting a poster or paper, all expenses paid. It may be toward the end of your tenure as a resident, and time runs out to take advantage of the situation. You can “go big” and attend the largest radiology meeting out there- RSNA. On the other hand, you may want to “go small” and consider a subspecialty meeting to delve into your area of interest. Or, perhaps you want to check out the academic conference and hobnob with the faculty at the most critical educational meeting- the AUR. How do you make this difficult choice? Well, if you are in this enviable situation and need to make a decision, this article is for you!!!
“Going Big”- The RSNA
RSNA is the radiology meeting that most radiology residents decide to attend. It is a meeting that has “something for everyone,” literally. Traditionally, the RSNA is the largest of all radiology meetings and covers every subspecialty within radiology. But this also presents a problem: how do you decide what to attend when you are there? Because of the vast conference size, I would recommend following a road map before arriving. Know what meetings, poster presentations, or other areas of interest you will attend before arriving. Suppose you do not outline a plan before arriving. In that case, you will likely miss half of the more relevant, informative, and exciting presentations since the conference is so enormous. The different activities can be far, far away from one another.
Lots Of Activity
In addition, if you are in the process of studying for the core examination and the timing is right to attend a conference, this may be the conference for you. There are usually loads of activities for residents, including review courses that may be helpful for the resident scheduled to take his/her boards. It is possibly even more important than the review course itself. You will also network with other residents in a similar situation, allowing you to learn the best resources to study for examinations and learn about other programs throughout the country. In many practices, at least one attending from your group will be present at this conference. Mingling with the faculty also allows the resident to take advantage of the possibilities of dinners or other engagements scheduled with vendors.
The one significant disadvantage of a conference like this one: it tends to be a bit more impersonal than some of the available smaller meetings. Impersonal may not be an issue for a radiology resident, depending on your fellow attendees and how you schedule your days.
“going small”- The Subspecialty Conference
My preference is this sort of conference. I usually attend the Society of Nuclear Medicine Conference every other year, an example of a particular subspecialty conference. I find that this conference is the best for learning the intimate details of a specific subspecialty. The newest information in subspecialties tends to get presented for the first time in these sorts of conferences.
If a particular subspecialty interests you and you want to choose a fellowship in the conference subject matter, you can utilize these subspecialty meetings to network with the physicians in the subspecialty. These conferences offer this possibility because they are smaller and give more of a “feeling of camaraderie.” Why? Conference members tend to be more involved in specific subspecialty activities with fewer numbers.
AUR Meeting- The Academic Radiology Conference
Every year in our program, the program has funded and allowed the chief resident to participate in this conference. It is a wonderful conference to find out the state of academic radiology throughout the country from a resident perspective as they have specific programs available for the chief residents. As a program director, I also tend to go to this conference once per year to keep up with the changes in radiology academics every year. (although I have not made it the past few because of Covid!)
In addition to the potential relevancy, the conference is not that large. It is hard to get lost at this meeting like you can at the RSNA. You can quickly get to know the players in the academic world. I would highly recommend this conference if you are interested in academics or are the chief resident in your residency program. Residents attending this conference obtain an invaluable source of information about all residency programs throughout the United States that they can share with their resident colleagues when they return.
The “Pure” Board Review/CME Conference
Lastly, there is the board review or CME conference. Usually, these conferences are for board review or a specific topic/selection of topics. In our residency program, many residents attend local board review courses before taking the core exam. It is a good resource as a means to review the information learned from studying.
Other sorts of CME conferences are also widely available throughout the United States and abroad. Typically, the attendees of these conferences are more likely to be fully trained radiologists. And, they want to learn more about a particular area or may want to travel to a specific destination. (I recently went to a conference at Disney World like this to learn about digital breast tomography!) In general, radiology residency daily conferences usually cover similar material. So, the yield of this conference for a radiology resident may be slightly lower. From my experience, most trainees that attend these conferences are at the institution responsible for the meeting.
Best Radiology Meeting To Attend During Residency
Like almost everything else in this world, one size does not fit all when deciding to attend a conference. RSNA is an excellent introduction to the world of conferences as it is the largest and the most general. Subspecialty conferences are great for networking, especially if a particular subspecialty or fellowship interests you. The AUR meeting is an excellent option for academic sorts and chief residents. And finally, board reviews/CME conferences are a great tool to review studies for the boards/core examination. Many decisions to make and so little time… Hopefully, this article will give another perspective on making this big decision!