Thursday, July 31, 2014

How to make the most of the ASET annual conference experience

I have enjoyed attending ASET annual conferences since 1980!  From my very first time, to now, after spending the last 10 years from the perspective of the meeting planner, I have greatly enjoyed  every single conference I have attended. 
When you first walk into the meeting space, and see that many people doing the same kind of work as yourself, it is quite a thrill!  It is so easy to feel isolated in your workplace, facing problems alone.  And it is so enlightening to realize, after listening to others, that we are all facing similar challenges!
It can be overwhelming to read the program and try to decide what to do, and to understand what is going on.  Some people ask: 
“What is the difference between a course lecture and an abstract presentation?”  A course lecture has specific objectives regarding skill building or knowledge of a particular topic.  Course lectures include handouts.  Abstracts are short presentations that explain a research project, new concept or technique and the goal is to share information.  These are often more scientific or academic in nature, and presenters are not required to provide handouts.
I have some hints to help you make the most of the opportunities we offer!
Read the program schedule ASAP after you arrive:  Also, read the lecture descriptions and abstracts in the final program to help clarify what each presentation will be about.  Make a plan ahead of time for where you want to be for session time slot.  View the meeting space map in advance so you won’t get lost and miss the first part of a lecture.  Do a dry run “walk around” to make sure you know where you are going before the meeting begins.
Move Around!  Be prepared to walk back and forth between courses and the platform presentation session to customize your learning to the max!  Don’t sit in a room and listen to a lecture that does not interest you.  If you find that a presentation is not exactly what you anticipated, it is O.K. to move on to another session!
Choose topics that are new to you!  Try something different!  Stretch your wings!  Think about skills that you may not utilize right away, but that you have always been interested in learning!  Don’t overlook a management topic because you are not a manager!  You might be in the future! 
Ask Questions!  Don’t sit in the back of the room wishing you had asked a key question!  All of our speakers are here because they want to share knowledge with you.  Our physician speakers are very supportive of technologists and glad to be here!  Don’t be afraid to approach them!  If you don’t like to speak up in a room full of people, go up to them after they leave the podium and ask questions then.
Be present in the moment!  Try to leave work, home issues, texting and catching up on e-mail behind!  You have paid to be here to learn.  Enjoy the experience and participate as much as you can!  Don’t let distractions spoil the opportunity to enjoy a presentation.
Too Cold?  Too Hot?  Can’t hear a speaker?  Sitting next to someone snapping gum?  Please inform the course director or staff if the room temperature is a problem.  If you can’t hear, raise your hand and tell the speaker or move closer.  Can’t bear your neighbor?  Move away!
Handouts:  While handouts are helpful, concentrate on the live presentation, since much more information is provided by the speaker!  Please do not get caught up on whether every slide the speaker shows exactly matches your handout!  Our speakers often add to slide presentations when they have updates or new case studies to include.  We strive to provide handouts for every course lecture!  All those received by our deadline for submission are included on the handout flash drive in the meeting bag.  We do not print any handouts.  The week of Aug. 11, we will send an e-mail out to all attendees registered for the meeting, to provide a link to a secure website where you may download handouts to print, if you wish to bring printed handouts with you.  I plan to collect the late handouts by then, so those not on the flash drive should be accessible via this link.    If you have a laptop or a tablet with a USB port, you can view handouts during lectures, using the handout flash drive. 
The Exhibit Hall Experience:  Poster abstracts are on display in the exhibit hall, with authors present at specific breaks.  Posters are a great way to gather information about new topics.  Visit as many vendors as you can!  This is your chance to view new products and ask questions of the manufacturers. 
Meet new people!  Introduce yourself to others at your table at lunch!  Listening to an interesting conversation?  Join in!  Participate in all the social events, and network wherever you can!  By the pool, at the bar, in the lobby!  Stop by the Grass Roots Watering Hole!  Browse the silent auction and talk with other bidders!
Enjoy the experience! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Pediatric Neurodiagnostics – A Very Special Skill

Most of the 25 years I spent in clinical neurophysiology, I spent specializing in working with pediatric patients.  I have a special passion for these young patients, and I have always found it especially fascinating to watch the development of the brain from premature infant to full term and the maturation of the EEG throughout childhood.  I had privilege of working at Children’s Hospital in Boston for 14 years, where I saw incredibly rare cases, and those with intractable seizures that became like family.
Where else can you observe such specific changes occurring every two weeks except in the maturing of EEG patterns in the neonate?  Delta brushes are so prominent at 32-33 weeks conceptional age and then abate rapidly.  Several patterns are very age specific and serve as an indicator of the age of the infant.

I also loved working with kids because you can get silly in the exam room.  You can sing silly songs, tell a story, and try to make them laugh.  I always had a small puppet peeping out from my lab coat pocket when I went to the waiting room to call for my patients.  I called the Omni Prep that we used to use to prep the skin “camel snot” because of the mucus textured base and sandy mix-in.
Last year we offered the first ever “Pediatric Neurodiagnostic” course track at the ASET 2013 annual conference.  It was very well attended and I am pleased that we can offer this track again this year.  We have assembled some really fantastic pediatric experts!  Since neonatal and pediatric EEG are included in the ABRET exams, if you do not have experience working with pedi patients, this will be an ideal opportunity to learn about this and help you prepare for the exam process!
Dr. Brad Ingram works with neurophysiology at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and he will be discussing Tuberous Sclerosis.  During my years at Children’s I saw so many patients with this disorder, mostly in the LTM unit.  He will discuss the disease in detail and treatments, including surgical resection of cortical lesions.
Dr. William Galentine is a pediatric epileptologist at Duke University.  He will be discussing the wide array of childhood epilepsies and encephalopathies.
Dr. Asim Shahid is coming to Asheville from the Cleveland Clinic, where he has a busy practice.  His presentation will explain the new guidelines published by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society for continuous EEG in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.  He will include case studies to illustrate the practical application of these guidelines.

Susan Hollar is a technologist from Duke University, also dedicated to working with young patients.  She will follow with another presentation about EEG in the NICU, this on best practices for patient set-up and reducing the risk of stress and injury to these special, tiny patients.
Dr. Pestana Knight is a pediatric neurologist, also affiliated with the Cleveland Clinic.  She will present an overview of Infantile Spasms and the latest on diagnosis and treatment.
And Petra Davidson, a technologist working at the Mayo Clinic, will give a very helpful presentation with lots of tips on how to get a child through the process of diagnostic testing without sedation.
Please come to the ASET Annual Conference in Asheville. 

 The Pediatric NDT course will be on Thursday, Aug. 21.   Stop by and catch a couple of special pediatric presentations, they will all be very interesting and enlightening!