By Erica Emmons (MS4, University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine) & Tanner Jones (MS4, University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine)
What better way is there to learn about the IR community than to attend an annual Society of Interventional Radiology meeting? If you are interested in IR, but you’re not quite sure that there’s a place for you at this meeting, let me assure you that you are welcomed and have a place. This article will briefly take you through what SIR looks like for a medical student, some of my personal takeaways, and why you should attend in 2018!
The annual scientific meeting is not only an important place to share achievements within the IR community, but also to foster interest in the field for fledgling physicians. In fact, every annual meeting has a curriculum created specifically for medical students. Most commonly, this is a two-day series of lectures and panels that kicks off on the weekend at the start of the conference. Many of the lectures are on the history of IR and hot topics within pediatrics, oncology, vascular, and other subsets of the field. The lecturers are experts in their fields and lead engaging talks that welcome student questions. Additionally, panels are incorporated throughout the two-day curriculum and generally include perspectives from program directors, women in IR, and residents/fellows. With the integrated IR residency still in its infancy, there have been many questions regarding training path options. The panelists do a fabulous job at laying out the many different ways into IR and talking candidly about their experiences getting there.
One of the highlights of the medical student curriculum is the medical student breakfast. At the event, students present their research, including presentations on accepted abstracts and talks from SIR foundation interns. Prior to the conference, the Resident, Fellow and Students (RFS) section of SIR calls for, and selects, a handful of abstracts to be presented. Taking full advantage of this opportunity is a great way to have your work showcased amongst peers, and to be involved in the meeting. Additionally, usually 5-6 students have completed internships at academic centers or with the medical device industry. The application window for these internships closes shortly after the conference, so the medical student breakfast is an opportunity to hear from previous students on how they managed their application and schedules.
Another great aspect of the conference is getting to know the IR community. There are several dinner events that you can attend while at the conference that facilitate networking with peers and leaders in the field. One of these is the medical student and resident-in-training dinner. It is invite-only for residents in training and travel scholarship winners, so make sure you apply for a chance to be involved in this event! Here you will hear from a keynote speaker and can meet fellow students interested in IR who can become companions for future events. Another dinner that is open to all attendees is hosted by Cook Medical. This dinner includes a keynote speaker who is excited to see the future physicians of IR and interactive stations that allow you to get hands-on experience with some of their products.
Not only are there wonderful events planned specifically for medical students, but also many more events and programming throughout the week. You can explore presentations in any of the rooms, walk through the posterboard and e-poster stations, and talk with industry representatives in the exhibit hall who are anxious to teach anyone (including students) about their latest device or technology. Additionally, daily plenary sessions are a fantastic way to hear about key findings from research studies, awards, and other news in the field. All-in-all, there are plenty of events going on, and many ways to show support for your home program while experiencing the greater SIR community.
If there was one reason that I would urge anyone to go to SIR, it would be so that you can determine if this is where you “fit”. Specialty choice is no easy task. Not only will it determine your career, but also it will, in part, determine your colleagues. It is important to find some common personalities within the society at large and make sure you enjoy this specialty outside of your home institution. For me, that meant that I had to appreciate all the science, industry, and people within the field. Going to SIR gave me exposure to all of those realms. I felt welcomed as a student, and the IRs I met were receptive to mentoring me even if I was halfway across the country. I was able to meet a female IR mentor from the coast, and have reconnected with her each year at SIR. In addition, I met other medical students with whom I maintain friendships and connections through the conference. For me, this feeling of belonging and kinship amongst the community at SIR helped me solidify my interest in IR.
In short, I have never seen as much respect for medical student attendees as I have at SIR; you will not be bored! At every annual meeting you are guaranteed to find a myriad of scientific sessions to attend, a city to explore, networking events, research opportunities, and peers who share your interests. Attending the conference is one of the best things you can do if you are looking to reaffirm your interest in IR, begin building lasting relationships, and engage yourself in special IR student opportunities. I hope to see you in LA for SIR 2018!
For more information about SIR 2018 and the medical student travel scholarship, please visit http://www.sirmeeting.org
Abstracts are due Sept 28th, 2017
Applications for the SIR Medical Student Travel Scholarship are due October 1st, 2017
Join the RFS section today to learn more about medical student opportunities! http://rfs.sirweb.org/