June 2, 2021, by Postgraduate Placements Nottingham
Top tips if you are thinking of attending a virtual conference
I was grateful to be awarded the Researcher Academy OCF award to attend the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland (ASGBI) annual congress, where I was presenting a poster on part of my PhD work.
Having had a year of virtual …everything, the idea of 5 days of back-to-back talks sat in front of a screen was not the most appealing, but I am glad to say, my experience was quite different from what I expected.
Although there were obviously some differences between running this conference as a virtual meeting instead of face-to-face, there were many benefits. The main one being the on-demand feature with the platform still open, for any sessions missed or that you want to see again. The organisers had clearly spent a lot of time collating an interesting and varied program with mixed variation in the length of talks and the addition of a daily guided yoga break! There were separate ‘rooms’ for poster viewing, meeting the speakers, networking and to meet the sponsors.
The ASGBI annual congress is one of the highlights of the year for consultant and trainee surgeons in the UK from all general surgical specialities including colorectal, upper gastrointestinal, hepato-biliary, breast, endocrine, bariatrics, transplant, emergency and trauma surgery. It is known for its variety in breadth of topics, active involvement of trainees and sociable atmosphere.
Hot topics in each of these specialities were covered, as well as short paper presentations from trainees on a variety of topics of their own research. Themed sessions on training, teamwork and simulation and the impact of COVID on surgery were among the highlights for me this year. It was fantastic to see amazing representation from colleagues in and around the East Midlands and the University of Nottingham, presenting their own PhD projects, with several colleagues in the running for a number of prestigious awards.
“Although there were obviously some differences between running this conference as a virtual meeting instead of face-to-face, there were many benefits.”
I did miss the social interaction element, however discussion occurred via the chat function on the online platform and Twitter, perhaps encouraging participation from those who might not have been brave enough to come forward in person. Not having to travel to another part of the UK for a face-to-face meeting, meant flexibility in planning my day working from home, not getting flustered trying to squeeze on to a packed train with my suitcase and poster box, as well as being on hand to answer the door for the Amazon delivery!
My top tips if you are thinking of attending a virtual conference … if you know of a few colleagues locally who are attending as well, as long as social distancing rules allow, you can still get together and watch a few sessions as a small group or have a post-conference meal. If your eyes are getting tired, take a break, make use of the on-demand feature! Finally, there might be a conference that you would not have thought to attend in person due to logistics or timing, now is the perfect opportunity to take that leap and get involved virtually!
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