NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.—On one end of the cavernous exhibit hall space at HM15 stood Brendan Sullivan, OMS-II, a second-year medical student, practically grinning as he showcased his poster on the effects of bedside rounds with nurses. On the other side stood Donald Tashkin, MD, a pulmonologist who began his training in the 1960s and was talking like a younger man about his poster on drug therapies for exacerbated cases of COPD.
Both men were first-time presenters at SHM’s annual Research, Innovations, and Clinical Vignettes (RIV) poster competition. The contest has become one of the meeting’s most popular rites, growing so big it now spans two of the conference’s four days. This year’s competition drew a record 1,297 abstracts, topping the prior record of 1,132 and fully double the 634 abstracts submitted for HM10, according to SHM.
What makes the contest popular is that its posters are as varied as the presenters’ motives.
Take Sullivan, a student at Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine in Downers Grove, Ill. His poster, “Examining the Future of Hospitalist Medicine: Impact of Bedside Rounding with Nurses on Patient Care,” served as his introduction to the specialty.
“You can see the tangible results [hospitalists] have,” he says. “Working with the nurses, the nurses recognize [hospitalists] as a continuous part of hospital life. It just seems like, as a field, there’s definitely a lot of opportunity for medical students like me, who want to go into internal medicine but [are] not really sure what aspect of internal medicine. Hospital medicine is definitely a very viable career option.”
Sullivan’s project came about because of work with his faculty mentor, a second-year hospitalist. At HM15, with the titans of the field walking around him, Sullivan showed his work off proudly but respectfully.
“It’s definitely a learning experience for me,” he says. “I’m just taking a backseat and soaking it all in. I realize that being one of the youngest and more inexperienced members here, I have a lot to learn .… I spent eight weeks in a field they’ve been doing for 20 years.”
But experience doesn’t mean a poster presenter has been here before. Dr. Tashkin, a veteran pulmonologist at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles, had never been to an SHM annual meeting. He presented two related posters on COPD drug therapies.
Where Sullivan was awed by the experience, Dr. Tashkin was in it for the academic stimulation that comes with bouncing medical ideas off of medical minds.
“It’s an intellectual enjoyment,” he says. “You can learn things when you talk to people, because they give you certain insights that you never thought of before. It’s not about ego; I’ll tell you that.”
Poster presenters say that a lot. The sharing of projects isn’t about adulation, they say. It’s about finding fellow hospitalists who are dealing with the kinds of issues that plague all hospital medicine groups. That’s why Greta Boynton, MD, SFHM, enjoys the RIV sessions.
“When you walk around and see all the great work that other people have done, most people are working on very similar things, like readmission rates or quality or [patient] satisfaction,” says Dr. Boynton, division chief of hospital medicine for Baystate Health in Springfield, Mass. “You get a lot of practical suggestions for things that you could implement in your own group.”