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Procrastinators’ Guide to the Joint Meeting

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There’s always a reason. Maybe you’ve been debating on attending the Joint Meeting and just found out you qualify for a department grant to attend. Or maybe you just found out that a previously scheduled appointment or meeting that kept you from coming has been cleared.

If you’re worrying what to do now, never fear. YO Info’s procrastinators’ guide to the Joint Meeting has the scoop on making last minute travel preparations, the ins and outs of registering onsite, choosing sessions and courses, and even a few suggestions from the YO Info editorial board.

You’ve waited long enough…let’s get started.

Travel Basics
First things first: you have to get to the meeting itself. For flights, your best bet is to check with Association Travel Concepts, the official travel agent for the meeting.

Once you are there, you’ll need a place to stay. Although meeting preregistration has closed, it’s not too late to book housing with Expovision, the housing company for the meeting. You can also give them a call at 866.774.0487 or 703.770.3908. YO Info editorial board member Lisa Nijm, MD, also recommends you ask around and see who you know who is also attending the meeting and has already booked a hotel to see if you can double up with them and split the cost.

When booking your hotel, keep in mind that only official meeting hotels are included on the free shuttle service to and from the Moscone Center. If you end up needing to use mass transit or take a cab to the convention center, refer to our guide to neighborhoods and mass transit for help getting to the meeting.

Registering Onsite
When making your flight and housing arrangements, you’ll also want to keep registration in mind. While that may seem strange at first glance, registering onsite can be a bit hectic. You may want to consider flying in on Thursday (Oct. 22) to take advantage of early registration, which opens at 4 p.m.

If you can’t make it Thursday, then aim for a Friday morning arrival, but wait until the afternoon to register, as mornings tend to be very crazy. And make sure you are aware of the registration location.

This year, there are three key buildings that house the meeting. When you are registering onsite (or picking up badges), you need to go to the North Lobby. If you have already registered and would like to purchase tickets or check if seats have become available for sold-out courses (see below), then you need to go to the West Lobby.

One other registration note: if you are interested in the Run for Vision but haven’t registered, you can still participate. Simply visit the Bausch & Lomb booth on Saturday and register directly with them.

Courses and Programs
When it comes to deciding which courses and/or programs to attend, one should be a no-brainer: the YO Program. Tickets are available for purchase in the Moscone West Lobby. View onsite registration information.

Dr. Nijm also suggests that if you are interested in a particular subspecialty, you may want to talk to current or recent fellows and ask them what courses they would have taken if they knew then what they know now. Same goes for a new doc in practice or those of you who are going to be finishing training this year. Often, the coding courses are most helpful in these cases.

As for other programs, courses or events that interest you, it may be a bit trickier to get the exact event you are looking for. Fortunately, tickets for lots of events are still available. Plus, even if an event is listed as “sold out,” it’s worth checking at ticket sales, because a lot of things get traded in at the last minute. You may still be able attend that course or program after all!

YO Info’s editor Aaron Miller, MD, also recommends that you look into the some of the pharmaceutical company-sponsored talks and receptions. You can sometimes get a free meal and learn something new.  

Free Events
And speaking of free, there are tons of free sessions and events that you can enjoy at the meeting. For example, all of the following are free and don’t require registration:

Some of the highlights:

  • “Welcome to the Real World, Reality 101 for Residents and Fellows” – free session on Monday, Oct. 26, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. More course and session suggestions for residents and fellows.
  • Get a free USB flash drive when you demo the electronic office at the IHE Eye Care Showcase (Moscone West, Booth 5169).
  • Sign up to get a free diabetes eye disease poster for your practice and learn more about the new EyeSmart™ Eye Committed campaign at the EyeSmart kiosk in the Academy Resource Center (Moscone North, Booth 3569).
  • Hear the latest on Medicare reform, surgical-scope battles and other hot topics at the free sessions hosted by the Academy’s Governmental Affairs division.
  • Learn more about the FTC’s “red flags rule” and what it means for physicians at a free session on Saturday, Oct. 24.

Dr. Nijm also recommends that you plan to attend your alumni gathering.

Other good opportunities for networking and free food include the Unofficial Satellite Symposia events hosted by exhibiting companies. They always have events planned on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If you haven't received the fliers, talk to your attendings or fellow residents, visit their booths, or check out events online.

Additional Helpful Tips
In addition to these great suggestions for procrastinators everywhere, here are a few other tips to help you stay organized and on task at the meeting.

Natasha Herz, MD, recommends:

  • Print out a Mapquest of the events you want to go to in the evenings, especially if you intend on doing some walking.
  • Print out a good map of the shuttle route so you can make use of that instead of taxis if possible.
  • Enter all your courses and evening events (and their room numbers/addresses) into your Microsoft Outlook or other scheduling tool and print out each day's schedule ahead of time. It always helps to see it in print, even if you have a palm pilot or smart phone.

Dr. Nijm weighs in with a few additional thoughts:

  • If it is your first meeting, looking through the book can be overwhelming. That’s why I suggest looking at the symposium online prior to getting to registration so you have an idea of what's available. Just limit it to a topic area or certain day, otherwise too much info.
  • Spend some time browsing the exhibit floor. It's kind of fun to see the new instruments that are available and interact with the reps. I usually end up running into a lot of people too, so it may be a good networking opportunity.
  • Don't forget to stop by YO Lounge!
  • Pack business clothes for the meeting during the day and clothes for dinner/evening activities (remembering it can be chilly on a San Francisco night).
  • Leave the study material at home.

Lastly, don’t forget there are lots of free, no-registration events in the evening where you can connect with other YOs, including the OPHTHPAC/Surgical Scope Fund happy hour in the YO Lounge (Oct. 24 at 4 p.m.) and the YO Reception on Oct. 25 at the St. Regis Hotel.

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About the author: Kimberly Day is a freelance health writer and medical editor and a frequent contributor to YO Info. She is the co-author of Hormone Revolution and ghost writer of Eat Papayas Naked.