Professional Organizations

Professional Organizations

Category : PROspective

I have attended almost every annual meeting of the Society for Epidemiologic Research (SER) each June since 1998. The meeting begins with pre-conference workshops, and the agenda from there includes two and a half days of plenary sessions, symposia, and poster sessions.

In 1998, I hardly knew anyone and spent the meeting in awe of the speakers whose papers and textbooks I had been reading. I mostly sat alone, and did not have much to do outside of the scheduled meeting hours. By attending every year, and making an effort to participate, SER eventually became my professional home. Now when I attend, I return home happy and exhausted – seemingly every minute filled with meeting content, coffees, lunches, and late night drinks. I have worked at four academic institutions; SER has been one constant throughout. The meeting provides an opportunity to keep up on new methods and research findings, and to catch up with friends and colleagues, many of whom I would otherwise never see.

I have worked at four academic institutions; SER has been one constant throughout.

Joining a professional society offers opportunities for continuing education, networking, and professional development. There are many societies for epidemiologists to choose from. I always attend SER because I like the size and length of the meeting—about 1,200 attendees over only a few days. I also like the focus on just epidemiology, on methods, and on all epidemiologic topic areas. There are smaller generalist meetings—such as the meeting hosted by the American College of Epidemiology (ACE), larger meetings—such as the meeting of the American Public Health Association (APHA), and more applied meetings—such as the meeting of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists (CSTE).

I always attend SER because I like the size and length of the meeting—about 1,200 attendees over only a few days.

There are also meetings focused on topic areas: cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, environmental epidemiology, reproductive epidemiology, pharmacoepidemiology, and so on. Some are held at international destinations and others are always domestic. Most meetings are held at about the same calendar time each year, and have standard annual due dates for abstract submissions.

Membership in a society and participation in its annual meeting is an investment that pays long-term dividends. Like most investments, the returns are evident only over the long run and accrue only with regular contributions. An important consideration is what the society offers beyond its meeting: journal subscriptions or discounts on publication fees are typical, and many societies also offer access to professional and continuing education resources at their website.

Membership in a society and participation in its annual meeting is an investment that pays long-term dividends.

In today’s connected world, it is easy to undervalue the benefit of membership in a professional organization and attendance at its annual meeting. No social media interaction will ever match the exchange of smiles and handshakes between RSPH classmates who only see each other once a year. It’s worth it.


 


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