Conference Musings

I’ve been away from home for 10 days on a road trip of sorts. A 2,478 mile road trip to be exact, to Nashville and back. Last week I was attending the annual conference of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists there, and I’d been pondering ahead of time about driving instead of flying.

I live in Massachusetts, so it’s not a quick drive, but I thought it might be a great chance to see some places en-route that I’d not seen before. And I know it’s not for everyone, but I really love driving. I could quite enjoy being a trucker, I think! Just cruising long distances, listening to my in-car (or truck!) satellite radio……

Anyway, I’d kept an eye on the weather situation – it can be touch and go this time of year in New England, you just never know when the snow is going to make its appearance. And since we had that early snowfall at Halloween, it was anyone’s guess as to what might happen. I decided I could book a last minute flight if necessary, but it turned out that luck was on my side, and I had great weather on both ends of the journey.
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The conference turned out to be very productive for a few reasons:

  • Great opportunities for continuing education: There were so many interesting sessions this year, and one in particular turned out great. It was a non-scientific session on the theme of entrepreneurship for veterinary pathologists. Once I get my act together and catch up at work, I’m hoping to piece together some of the major points covered in some of the sessions as a blog post here, because most of the points were applicable to anyone setting up a small business of their own. So some of you may find them share-worthy!
  • Committee meetings: I also had to attend the conference because I’m a member of the ACVP Examination Committee, and we meet up a few times at the annual conference. These were productive and useful sessions too, as we head toward the 2012 board certification exam. Amazing that we’ve only just finished up with the 2011 exam which was held late September, and now we’re preparing for the next one already.
  • Post-meeting workshop: There are always great continuing education workshops held both before and after the conference. This year I attended one on evaluation of bone marrow specimens, and it was great. An MD pathologist was an invited speaker for the sessions, and he gave some great insight into bone marrow cancers and other diseases in people. Plus he was a very articulate speaker in general, so was just very interesting to listen to.
  • Vendor Networking: We’ve been having problems at work with our diagnostic software – to the degree that we’re looking into getting a completely new system. Expensive! After a fair bit of networking with other pathologists, and doing some online research, I finally came up with a good referral. I’d contacted them before the conference and received a follow-up package by mail, and am awaiting an appointment with them. And as it happened, when I was at the conference, I discovered that they had a vendor booth in the exhibit hall. Their first time at our conference. So I was very lucky to be able to get a first hand demonstration of their software. The representatives were extremely helpful.
  • Socially: I really enjoyed catching up with my colleagues and friends, some of whom I really only get to see at this time of year at the conference. I was especially pleased to see a friend from Scotland who attended too – we haven’t seen each other since 2005, so it was lovely to spend some time with her. We managed to get to see some live music in Nashville on the first evening. I’m not much of a live music fan – mostly because when I go out with friends, I like to be able to chat to them, and I find that music obviously prevents this happening! But regardless, this may be the only time I ever visit Nashville, so seeing some live music was kind of a “bucket list” item. And I’m glad I did it, even if it kept me up until after midnight, leaving me over-tired the following morning.

So as is typical for most conferences, the days were long and exhausting!

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And On Another Note…..Some Eco-Friendly Thoughts

I’m always conscious about being as “green” as possible, regardless of my whereabouts, but when I’m traveling, I do my best to pay some extra thoughts. Nine days in hotels reminded me of this:

  • Towels: You know how most hotels give you the option to be eco-friendly and not have your towels replaced every day if you either hang them on the rack, or display the relevant tag to alert the housekeeping staff to this? During this trip I was once again frustrated in our Nashville hotel because despite hanging my towel as requested, so it wouldn’t be replaced, I’d constantly find it gone when I returned to the room, only to be replaced by a fresh one.
  • Bathroom accessories: You know the wee travel-sized soaps, shampoos etc that hotels provide? I try to avoid using them at all costs. When I was in New Zealand in January, I discovered that the NZers are massively green, and most of their hotels offer pump-action dispensers of shampoo, soap etc, which I liked a lot. But anyway, when I travel, I take my own stuff with me so I don’t have to use up small containers of the hotel supplies. The only thing I don’t tend to take is soap, because I don’t use bars of soap at home. If I’m only at a hotel for a day or so, I avoid opening the small bars, and instead make do with using my shampoo as soap. And if I’m traveling for a long time, like in this trip, I’ll open a small bar at my first hotel and carry it with me for the remainder of the trip, wrapped in its original package.
  • Linens: I always opt for “no fresh linens” each day when I’m at a hotel for a few nights. Thankfully on this trip, they granted my wish, despite giving me fresh towels daily!

And is anybody as weird as I am? I consistently only ever use one trash can in the room! I tend to only use the one in the bathroom for all my trash. I always like to try and minimize the work that other people have to do in my wake, and I feel that keeping my rubbish confined to one place is a bit of a help here!

I know, I’m quirky!

Do you have any travel rituals?

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Posted on December 12, 2011, in Miscellaneous. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Those vendor booths are wonderful, aren’t they? And I think they’re thrilled to have visitors so they give you lots of time to answer questions. Having done them myself, it’s a wonderful moment to have a truly interested browser. I bet they loved having you visit.

    • I love the vendors too, there’s always lots of fun stuff to be investigated. The software guys were wonderful too, and I had a follow-up call yesterday, so we’re in the process of organizing for them to visit our department.

  2. Nicki… I do the same in hotels… and I love what nz does!

    • Anne, I love NZ’s attitude toward the environment too – and I especially love that it’s pretty consistent from person to person. I’ve never found that in any other country.

  3. Glad you’re conference was good. I’ve been to several on different topics, and sometimes they’re great, sometimes they’re just a waste of time.
    For hotels, we usually stay at moderate chains or B&Bs which have been pretty good about following the towels/linens thing. Bringing our own soap though – never tried that. It
    s a good idea!

    • I wish they’d all provide a soap dispenser bottle or something. If they’re concerned about keeping it cosmetically appealing, they could easily find a decorative one to put on the wall!

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