The Annual Research Meeting offers students and fellows learning opportunities and networking experiences all packed into a few days. On Sunday, a new program launched to offer students and fellows 45-minute poster walks lead by a faculty leader. I participated in the disparities and health equity session with 14 other master's degree and PhD students lead by Dr. Marshall Chin from the University of Chicago Medicine. Everyone introduced themselves and briefly described their research interests before we went into the poster session. Dr. Chin selected five posters that had varying research methodologies, moving from quantitative research methods to mixed methods, and finally to qualitative. The poster walks helped to review and put into context some of the most significant and thought-provoking disparities and health equity research at the meeting, and provided a venue for networking and informal discussion. Dr. Chin first lead the group to "The Health Transportation Shortage Index and Geomapping to Access Risk of Transportation Barriers to Health Care Access," a poster presented by Roy Grant from the Children's Health Fund. After Mr. Grant presented his poster, Dr. Chin reviewed the methodology with the group and concluded by explaining, "this was the only poster at the session with geomapping and I think it will be an important aspect of health services research in the future. If you have the chance, I would encourage you to take a course in geomapping as part of your program." At each poster Dr. Chin provided important insight to the group, and after the session concluded the students exchanged information with peers who shared the same research interests. On Monday the "Building a Successful Career in Non-University Settings" session provided advice for graduate students and others considering health services research careers in non-university settings. Chapin White began by explaining, "in an academic setting, you crank out articles and focus on the important journals to publish in. But creating information for policy making is completely different. Outside academia you have to think about the information value of what you're working on rather than the academic value." In the same session, Shandra Decker joked that her career was completely unplanned. "When something comes your way and isn't what you had planned, take a moment to think about it. Some of the opportunities I pursued that weren't in my plan ended up being the most fun and fulfilling." Melinda Buntin offered a blended perspective from her career experiences. "Even if you leave academia after earning an advanced degree, it is important to maintain your reputation as an expert in a particular area and to keep publishing in that area. Even if that means working nights and weekends in addition to your day job. That way if you leave academia and want to go back later, you will have papers published while working in government." Each panelists emphasized the importance of staying in touch with advisors and classmates regardless of whether or not you end up in academia. You never know if someone from your past will be there to help and support you if you decide to make a change. After the conclusion of the final session on Monday, I joined other students in attending the student networking event at Frank & Nic's West End Grill. The event is a less formal networking time for students and young professionals, and after running full speed the past two days, chatting over an ice cold drink on a balmy Baltimore evening was the perfect end to an eventful day. Post by Lydia Orth, Research Assistant, AcademyHealth and MPH Candidate, George Washington University

Blog comments are restricted to AcademyHealth members only. To add comments, please sign-in.