If you had the privilege of attending the APA annual meeting in San Francisco in May, I hope you were able to enjoy at least some of the flurry of events targeted to residents and fellows each day of the meeting. The annual meeting is the largest gathering of psychiatrists in the world, and the turnout this year in San Francisco was enormous.
Because of its sheer size and scope, however, the meeting can be daunting for first-time attendees. What session to attend and when? Where are the other residents and fellows?
APA’s member-in-training (MIT) leadership worked extensively behind the scenes over the past year to address these challenges and make the meeting as user-friendly for residents as possible. As a result, I can confidently state that this meeting was a resounding success!
Learning from fragmented experiences in Philadelphia in 2012, we wanted to create a meeting experience that was member-centered and personable. This idea came to fruition in the MIT Center, a centrally located room within the convention center that provided consistent MIT-focused programming sessions as well as a place to rest and socialize between sessions.
The MIT Center also housed literature on subspecialty programs and career opportunities from allied organizations and an on-call schedule of volunteer mentors from subspecialty groups who were available to meet with MITs interested in their area of expertise.
We hope to advance the MIT Center next year by potentially removing the programming and placing it at a location in the Exhibit Hall to make it more accessible and to promote a more casual atmosphere for MITs to congregate. Feedback on this suggestion is welcome!
All residents and fellows attending the meeting also had the opportunity to join the shared Facebook group that highlighted resident and fellow scholarly work as well as a unified social-events calendar. Ad lib mentoring was also available for members of the Facebook group. In many ways, it was the MIT home over the course of the meeting. More than 400 residents signed up, receiving real-time information on opportunities for career development and networking spanning the breadth of the meeting. Jake Behrens, a PGY-4 at the University of Wisconsin and head of the Assembly Committee of Members-in-Training, deserves enormous credit for his behind-the-scenes work managing the Facebook outreach—an integral part of what made the meeting come together for many in attendance this year.
The Facebook group was an instrumental platform for social networking. Stellar residents from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), went above and beyond the call of duty in arranging nightly social events at several local attractions, often with discounts for attendance at nearby hangouts. The venues were always packed with MITs and allowed for the unique collaborations that can occur only when everyone relaxes in a welcoming social environment. The UCSF residents set a new bar for host-city MITs that we can only hope to replicate next year in New York.
Finally, our outgoing member-In-training trustee, Alik Widge, organized a wonderful MIT Caucus reception at a nearby restaurant where residents and fellows got to meet our incoming medical director, Saul Levin, and learn how the APA leadership is addressing the needs of the Association’s resident members. Additionally, residents and fellows who managed to pull themselves out of bed early Monday morning had the privilege of meeting with psychiatrist Jeremy Lazarus, the president of the AMA, and other prominent national leaders around intimate continental-style breakfasts to discuss career development and leadership.
All of these opportunities were in addition to the amazing scientific programming APA always offers at the annual meeting. As we gather feedback on this year’s meeting, we hope to further refine the services we provide to make it a must-attend event for residents and fellows at least once in their training, so they can be part of the richness and vitality that is our professional organization.
Attending these meetings offers us a complementary education in career development and networking that’s sometimes hard to come by during training. Thanks to all who helped to make the meeting the best yet, and I look forward to the beginning of an amazing year serving as the resident-fellow trustee on the Board. ■