RESIDENTS & FELLOWS COMMITTEE: Why Attend the AUA Annual Meeting: Reflections from a First-Time Resident Attendee
By: Jose Ivan Robles-Torres, MD | Posted on: 01 Aug 2022
I have had the experience of attending national and some international urology meetings, but never one like the 2022 AUA Annual Meeting, considered one of the largest scientific meetings of urologists in the world. Just imagine, 68 plenary sessions, 88 instructional courses, more than 2000 abstracts and endless International Society and Specialty Society Symposiums; without forgetting the enormous Exhibit Hall.1 It is like a complete city full of science, technology and innovation! It is practically impossible to be able to attend everything that the meeting offers, and for a resident who attends an event of this magnitude for the first time, it is quite complicated to be able to organize yourself for the best meeting experience possible. Many will feel like me, wanting to attend everything, learn as much as possible, gain new insights and learn about new technology and the latest studies.
Some will do the same as I did, and will check the agenda in advance. You will notice the huge amount of sessions. The first thing I did was start selecting the sessions that I was interested in a few weeks before the meeting. It seemed like a simple task, only selecting sessions of my interest. Unfortunately, in the end, I realized that many sessions were simultaneous and distanced from each other. What do I do now?
There is no reason to stress out! The AUA Annual Meeting is not just about attending as many sessions as you can. In the case of residents, it is not only about learning and updating. There is much more to take home from the meeting.
Here are some tips to improve your experience for your first-time as a resident attendee at the AUA Annual meeting:
• Organize your agenda. Don’t stress out! You will sacrifice very interesting sessions, but you must prioritize what you want. We all have one or several specialties of interest, so focus on these topics. If you want to do a fellowship, try to attend the sessions of that particular specialty. Find out about new studies and take the opportunity to establish collaborations for future research projects. Fortunately, with the introduction of the virtual modality and online education in response to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, enormous efforts have been brought together to offer the on demand modality of the AUA Annual Meeting through a virtual platform.1,2 With this valuable tool, it will be possible to access and enjoy the sessions that you were not able to attend at the in person meeting.
• Dedicate some of your time to visit the Exhibit Hall. You will be able to learn and try some of the latest technology in the field, improve your skills in the different enhancement workshops and take the opportunity to create relationships with the industry and arrange further workshops of new technologies in your institution. In addition, the Residents Bowl takes place in the Exhibit Hall. Test your knowledge and refresh yourself on important topics that will surely be reviewed at the Board.
• Start working on your fellowship. It is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to the directors/coordinators of the fellowship programs of your interest. Get organized in advance to schedule interviews at the meeting. With this done, you will be one step closer to reaching your goal. If you still haven’t decided which fellowship specialty to choose, the AUA website provides you with valuable information and opportunities that will help you make this important decision. You will find the available fellowship programs, program coordinators/directors, and contact information.3
• Build your network. Introduce yourself to other residents and prestigious urologists. Michael T. Sheppard in his column published in March 2021, titled: “Build Your Network (Hint: The AUA Can Help!),” shared a couple of useful tips on how to start building your network.4 The AUA Annual Meeting is a great place to start. You never know if something transcendent may result and it all starts with a simple introduction at the meeting. “A strong professional network can have a vast impact on career longevity, success and new business opportunities.”4 Your mentor plays an important role in this. They will help you reach the right people and start making connections.
• Reinforce your mentor-mentee relationship. As Dr. Ruchika Talwar mentioned in her AUANews column, “Mentorship is a vital component to professional success” and “Sometimes mentors are influential individuals who may be able to use their network to benefit you.”5 The AUA Annual Meeting is the perfect place to strengthen your relationship with your mentor in a relaxed environment outside the hospital and the workplace.
• And finally, take time for yourself. Get together with other residents and enjoy the tourist, cultural and gastronomic attractions that are offered by the host city.
- American Urological Association: Official American Urological Association 2022 Annual Meeting website. Available at https://www.auanet.org/annualmeeting/attendee-info/annual-meeting-app.
- Movassaghi M: The future of virtual education for the urology trainee: a standardized curriculum in the post-COVID-19 era. AUANews 2022; 27: 85, issue 4.
- American Urological Association: Urology Residency & Fellowship Programs, 2021. Available at https://www.auanet.org/education/auauniversity/for-residents/urology-residency-and-fellowship-programs.
- Sheppard MT: Build your network (hint: the AUA can help!). AUANews 2021; 26: 35, issue 3.
- Talwar R, Shah A and Ziemba J: Mentoring 101: A brief guide to navigating the mentorship process. AUANews 2021; 26: 69, issue 9.