Procrastinate. Pressure. Practice. Panic. Practice. PANIC!
These "P" words reflect a progression that commonly occurs prior to our Annual Scientific Meeting, indeed they could almost be synonyms for it. It is a stressful time of year for a great many members of our Society. The LOC have to carry the can for successes and failures of their hard work over a long period of time. Those presenting and sharing their knowledge, experience and research put themselves up for public scrutiny. Those judging prizes and mentoring others also put themselves on the line. The body is out on the line having to stay up half the night solving the World's problems over a red or three. Is it really worth subjecting yourself to the rigours of the Annual Scientific Meeting?
The answer has to be a resounding YES! There are a number of levels at which I believe it is critically important that we participate in the Annual Scientific Meeting.
- We, as a Society, have a philosophy of continuous quality improvement encapsulated in our vision namely "leading the way". A crucial component here is keeping up to date with advances in, for instance, methodology, technology and reference equations. The ASM is an excellent way of achieving this.
- With the constitutional debate going on within the Society at the present time we each have an obligation to contribute to the debate, thus ensuring the future health of our Society. Yes AGM's can be boring, but that does not absolve us of our responsibilities to have a say as a member of our professional Society.
- Personal and professional development flows from the preparation and presentation of posters and talks. For first timers this can be very stressful but the reward is considerable. The neophytes amongst should remember that those whom they perceive to be old- hands at presentation have all been there too. In fact many old hands, me for one, still get very nervous before getting up to speak.
The other thing first timers should remember is that they will know more about their subject that the majority, if not all, of the audience. You are the expert.
- Sharing your work and experience at the ASM also benefits our patients through greater standardization of testing methodologies and through our maintenance of professional competence.
- Development and maintenance of professional credibility through presentation of independent research done by Society members.
Of course there are also the hard bits associated with accomplishing these ends. First up is developing the personal confidence to get up and speak. To those cutting their teeth, one of our Society's greatest strengths is it's sense of family. I fondly remember my early days as a newbie and being made to feel very welcome and very safe in asking questions. After all I was a biochemist who knew very little about things respiratory so asked some pretty stupid questions - probably still do!. These of you starting out on the speaking circuit should also remember that the pressure really only comes on once you develop a reputation and the expectations soar - one slipup and you are "past it".
The second hard bit is the conversion of your poster / paper to a manuscript. This is the really hard bit but is absolutely critical in terms of your personal development and future. It is also a very important factor in the development of the professional standing of our Society. It is a key element in the Society's raison d'Ítre that we promote the advancement of respiratory science. We all benefit when members have their work published as it reflects a culture of advancement and professional growth. Stopping at the point of presentation leaves the job but half done.
To those of you who are standing up to present and contribute to the meeting we owe you a big vote of thanks. Your commitment benefits us all. To those of you attending but not presenting, seize the opportunities, get inspired and resolve to be presenting next year.
Enjoy Darwin and I look forward to catching up with many of you at the meeting - friends I have made, and friends I have yet to make.