AAFP, ACOFP, SNMA, GAFP, GOMA, AOA, AMA, ABCDEFG (<— ok, just kidding on that last one). As you can see, so many acronyms of various medical professional organizations can turn into alphabet soup at times. However, being a member of these groups, whether premed, med student, resident, and beyond, affords countless opportunities.
A couple of weeks ago I attended the American Academy of Family Physicians National Conference of Family Medicine Residents and Student in Kansas City, MO. I serve on the Georgia Academy of Family Physicians Board of Directors and represented the state at the national conference. Overall it was a memorable experience and I’m grateful that I attended.
I encourage you to become active members of professional organizations. Even if you are not in the medical field, the following 5 reasons to get involved applies to every profession:
- Information: Gain information about your specialty, techniques, procedures, policies, and get the latest updates in your field. There’s such breadth of things to learn while attending conferences.
- Motivation: Hear from powerful speakers, experts, and accomplished individuals in your field who have encouraging and uplifting words after overcoming insurmountable odds. For instance, at the AAFP conference, I was inspired to become more of an advocate for my patients by listening to some amazing speakers who have taken a personal stance in Washington, DC for certain health policies.
- Representation: Serve in leadership roles on behalf of your school, residency program, hospital, etc. While at the conference, I noticed that minority representation in leadership roles was lacking. If you want organizations to take notice of the needs of people who look like you or share the same values, it is vital to become a leader. Remember, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
- Socialization (networking): Meet like-minded individuals and also catch up with old friends. Remember, it’s not always what you know, it’s often who you know. For example, the AAFP conference invited residency programs and hospitals to exhibition booths, which was a great way to connect with future employers. I also met some awesome medical students who were interested in my residency program, and I was able to exchange contact info with them.
- Vacation: Take a few days to get away from the stress of school/work and recharge. I am currently dabbling in photography, so my camera goes everywhere I go. At the AAFP conference, I was able to explore the city and get some good photos along the way…and did I mention eat some great food?
Whatever your occupation and/or professional interests are, I challenge you to seek out and join organizations that best fit your professional needs. I’d love to hear from you. Comment below and let me know what organization(s) you are apart of.