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  • Navigating Your First RSNA Annual Meeting? Veteran Attendees Offer Some Tips

    From the right shoes to the best electronic tools, experienced RSNA meeting attendees offer newbies a few pointers. By Felicia Dechter

    November 1, 2017

    For those attending their first RSNA annual meeting, three-time meeting attendee David Gimarc, MD, has an analogy for your consideration.

    “Someone once told me that attending RSNA for the first time is like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant,” said Dr. Gimarc, chief radiology resident at the University of Colorado Hospital, Denver, and a member of the RSNA Resident & Fellow Committee. “As the largest medical imaging meeting in the world, it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed.”

    That is not far off the mark. For the uninitiated, just learning to navigate the massive structure that is McCormick Place is a challenge in itself. Then there is deciding what sessions to attend, what clothes to bring for the unpredictable Windy City weather, where to stay and even where to play.

    But what can first-time attendees do to make the experience go as smoothly as possible? Lots of things, according to attendees who have learned from experience.

    Planning ahead — long before you get to Chicago — is critical. To save costs, travel with a colleague, suggests two-time meeting attendee Gerald Drocton III, MD, a neuroradiology fellow at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.


    Wander around all of those immense buildings and explore everything RSNA has to offer.”
    Adam Flanders, MD

    Find out if a co-worker is planning to attend and room together if you feel comfortable. Book your hotel room in advance through the RSNA website to receive reduced rates for meeting attendees and free convention shuttle rides, Dr. Drocton said.

    Once onsite, newbies should start by soaking up the environment, said Adam Flanders, MD, a professor of radiology and rehabilitation medicine and director of informatics at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. Walk around and get distracted. Give yourself plenty of time to explore the exhibit halls and talk to the vendors, he said.

    “Wander around all of those immense buildings and explore everything RSNA has to offer,” said Dr. Flanders, a 30-plus-year attendee who attended his first annual meeting as a first-year radiology resident. “Don’t try to box yourself into a tight schedule of events initially.”

    It’s important to dress professionally but comfortably, suggested Courtney Tomblinson, MD, chief resident in diagnostic radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and chair of the RSNA Resident & Fellow Committee.

    “Dressing in layers can keep you flexible from room to room where the temperatures may fluctuate,” said Dr. Tomblinson, who has attended the annual meeting twice.

    Putting insoles inside your shoes is a good idea. Adds Dr. Flanders: “Wear comfortable shoes and don’t carry a lot of stuff you don’t need — no more than a tablet/PC, water bottle, snacks … otherwise you will be exhausted before lunchtime.”


    Dressing in layers can keep you flexible from room to room where the temperatures may fluctuate.”
    Courtney Tomblinson, MD

    Tap into RSNA Tools

    Along with virtual and physical Information Desks, RSNA offers a number of electronic tools to aid attendees. Download the RSNA meeting app on your smartphone and use the “What’s Happening Now?” feature, Dr. Flanders suggested. Refer to the RSNA meeting program and Pocket Guide frequently — or constantly.

    When creating your schedule, consider exploring a wide range of session formats, said Christian Zumkley, MD, a radiologist at Mathias-Spital, a hospital in Rheine, Germany, who will be attending the RSNA annual meeting for the 17th time this year.

    She recommended taking educational courses, as “they are very good, especially for beginners. Also, the hands-on courses are often good to get some experience,” Dr. Zumkley said.

    “Go over to the Lakeside Center and view some exhibits: traditional poster and digital presentations as well as 3-D models,” Dr. Flanders said. “You will gravitate to the things that interest you most and the venues that you like the best. If you’re a trainee, make a point of taking advantage of the Residents Lounge where you can network and grab a snack. Duck into a few lectures that sound interesting to you.”


    I’ve gotten the best headshots I have ever had during the RSNA annual meeting.”
    Gelareh Sadigh, MD

    Also for trainees, Gelareh Sadigh, MD, a neuroradiology fellow in the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, highly recommends attending the RSNA Resident and Fellow Symposium. This year’s symposium on Nov. 28 offers sessions on landing the job you want and how to build a successful career.

    For international members who might find the meeting especially daunting, RSNA offers courses on navigating RSNA 2017 presented in English, Portuguese, French and Spanish. (See sidebar). Translation services in Chinese, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish are offered at Information Desks throughout McCormick Place.


     The hands-on courses are often good to get some experience.”
    Christian Zumkley, MD

    And RSNA can help with another important part of your career: getting a professional headshot. RSNA will once again offer a free professional portrait studio that has been enormously popular with attendees, Dr. Sadigh said.

    “I’ve gotten the best headshots I have ever had during the RSNA annual meeting,” said Dr. Sadigh, who attended her first meeting in 2010 and has been there every year since.


    Chicago is a wonderful city with many great restaurants, museums and activities.”
    Gerald Drocton III, MD

    Have Some Fun Out There

    You’re here to learn, but don’t forget to have some fun and sample the eclectic variety of food and attractions Chicago has to offer.

    “Chicago is a wonderful city with many great restaurants, museums and activities,” Dr. Drocton said. “Whether it be a Chicago Bulls basketball game, a visit to the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium or the Art Institute of Chicago, the city has something for everyone.”

    Swing by downtown’s Christkindlmarket, stroll down the Magnificent Mile or go see a show.

    “Make sure to plan at least a little bit of time to enjoy Chicago,” Dr. Gimarc said. “While it can be quite chilly in late November — depending on where you’re coming from — the city is decorated for the holidays and can be really beautiful.”


     Make sure to plan at least a little bit of time to enjoy Chicago.”
    David Gimarc, MD

    RSNA Resources Aid First-Time Attendees

    Meeting Central: Optimized for tablets and mobile devices, Meeting Central at Meeting.RSNA.org is an essential resource for navigating RSNA 2017. Browse course listings, the technical exhibitors list, build your schedule on My Agenda and more.

    RSNA 2017 Meeting App: Download the App for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones to access and explore the RSNA meeting program even when you are offline.

    Social Media: Follow RSNA on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to get the latest news, connect with colleagues and share your favorite meeting moments (#RSNA17).

    First-Time Attendee Orientation

    Saturday, Nov. 25 and Sunday, Nov. 26
    Led by an RSNA staff member, this is the opportunity for attendees who have never been to an RSNA annual meeting to network with their peers and learn how to maximize the annual meeting.

    Navigating RSNA in Portuguese, French and Spanish

    Sunday, Nov. 26
    Gain insight into the meeting program, networking opportunities and insider tips for navigating the annual meeting and exploring the city of Chicago. Individual sessions are presented entirely in Portuguese, French and Spanish. 

    Navigating RSNA on a Dime

    Wednesday, Nov. 29
    This session will provide attendees tips on how to attend the RSNA annual meeting and enjoy Chicago on a tight budget. Go to Meeting.RSNA.org.

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