I have a problem. OK, many problems. Marital discord, balky kids, bloated mortgage? No, fortunately, not those kinds of domestic problems—although I do struggle with reliably differentiating whites from darks. My biggest problem is work-related. And this isn’t new. Turns out, I have different problems at work every year. “Time to find a new job,” you say. Tell the boss to shove it? Produce an epic, Jerry Maguire-esque manifesto and ride off into the sunset with my goldfish and Renee Zellweger? Hmmm, Renee Zellweger…
No, no, that’s not it. Much more mundane, yet crucial, problems.
Problems like trying to sort out the implications of the impending value-based purchasing program—what does it mean for my group? How do I keep my hospitalist partners engaged, satisfied, and not burned out? How do I produce a schedule that emphasizes high-quality patient care, efficiency, and physician work-life balance? How can I reduce readmissions so my hospital administrator can go back to “administrating” someone other than me all day? What do I do with the perioperative beta blockade now that some of the original data have been called into question due to academic dishonesty? What does the Affordable Care Act really say, is it going stand up, and what does it mean for me, my patients, my salary, and my career?
These are all questions I am grappling with currently. They also are all questions that will be addressed at HM12, April 1-4 in San Diego. As such, I view the annual meeting as a kind of toolkit: Have a problem, reach into the HM12 toolkit, and pull out your solution. The beauty is its breadth. You might not care one iota about healthcare reform, scheduling, or group satisfaction. Fine: How about updates in new medications, management of hyponatremia, the unique challenges of women in medicine, managing acute ventilator issues, acute pain management, information technology, quality improvement, professionalism in the digital age, or listening to the latest in the management of Clostridium difficile from the world-renowned Dr. John Bartlett? All are tools in this year’s toolkit.
And this type of breadth means the annual meeting evolves with you. Early in my career, I reached for the clinical tools. Then it was practice development and management tools; now I tend to look for healthcare policy solutions. Suffice to say, whatever solution you are looking for, with nine tracks, eight pathways, seven pre-courses, three plenary sessions by healthcare luminaries, and two Research, Innovation, and Vignette sessions, HM12 has your tool.
How can you best access this trove of information? Here is some advice culled from my 10 years of attending SHM annual meetings.
They Won’t Leave A Light On For You Forever
Unless you’re Tom Bodett, I’d recommend you get a hotel room now. For my first annual meeting (which was also in San Diego), I registered late, found no hotel rooms in the city, and had to commute 30 minutes both ways. Not only is this inconvenient and costly (I had to rent a car), but it also takes you out of the action. You want to be on-site, especially after meeting hours, when a lot of the networking and fun happens.
Stay Out Late
OK, now that you have a room, don’t use it. Rooms are for sleeping. If you find yourself in your room not sleeping, then you are missing out on some of the richest aspects of the conference—meeting new people, catching up with colleagues you see only once a year, and bathing in the general excitement of being at a meeting with thousands of peers. This remains the most satisfying part of the annual meeting experience for me. It’s dinner with a colleague from another part of the country, coffee with a new acquaintance, or a drink with an old friend. It’s energizing, engaging, and reignites my passion for HM.