As an advanced fellow training in pediatric cardiovascular critical care, I am relatively new to the PCICS community, and this past conference in December 2022 was my first. Overall, it was an excellent experience, both socially and professionally, and I finally understand why my friends and colleagues across the country have been so excited anticipating the return of the in-person meeting for the past few years.
I was first introduced to professional conferences as an MD-PhD student, first attending biology and neuroscience conferences and then additional pediatric and cardiology conferences as I transitioned to post-graduate clinical training. In the interest of full disclosure, I tend to be enthusiastic at baseline, so it isn’t unusual for me to feel excited at the start of a conference, however, even for me, the enthusiasm tends to wane as most conferences continue. Not so at PCICS! Every day I found more than one new event, both academic and social/professional, to eagerly anticipate.
The enjoyment was not just post-COVID isolation euphoria. The plenary and breakout session topics were innovative, fascinating, and immediately relevant. One breakout session I particularly enjoyed was, “Follow the Yellow Brick Road: Rescuing the Brain and the Heart,” on Saturday afternoon, which had modest attendance, likely due to timing of the session. The speakers were engaging, and the topics were exquisitely current with novel, leading-edge clinical practices still under study and, thus, not yet widely adopted. Another was “Complex Decision Making—Case Based Learning,” which, again, received only modest attendance, likely due to timing proximal to flights home and, probably, the World Cup Final. This session included small group discussions, which I very much enjoyed and wish had happened earlier in the week to facilitate more personal introductions. The case-based discussions were also engaging, although, like many I was unable to attend the entire session because of my flight home. A last note that I think distinguishes PCICS from other conferences I have attended is how heartened I was to see so many bedside nurses, advanced practice providers, dieticians, and other non-physicians play such an integral role in conference activities. We physician trainees learn so much from them at the bedside in our daily training; it only makes sense to celebrate and learn from them at conferences as well!
Two sessions I was especially disappointed to miss were “RV Failure: A New Hope” and “LCOS in 2022: Are We Still Sitting at the Bedside All Night?” There were other breakout sessions occurring at the same time in both instances, which made attendance difficult. In general, the three-at-a-time breakout sessions on Friday were difficult. Thankfully, timing of most presentations was well-respected, leaving some opportunity to run back and forth to specific talks between sessions. However, three sessions at a time, in my opinion and according to some colleagues, was too much. I’m not sure what a solution might be other than extending the conference for a day in order to accommodate so much excellent content. A second disappointment was limited attendance allowed in the practical pre-conference sessions. Of course, practical or simulation-based sessions can only accommodate a finite number of people to actively participate, but these sessions included a lot of didactic content as well. I wonder if there might be a way to limit practical participation to the first certain number people who register and then allow for additional attendees, with the understanding they will only be able to observe the practical activities.
Socially, the PCICS conference was excellent, both professionally and personally. As a job-seeking trainee this year, I am grateful I was able to attend and meet new, potentially hiring faculty from around the country and world. I specifically appreciated the Junior Faculty / Fellow Reception for this reason; (although, perhaps next conference, we can separate the sage panel advice from the highly anticipated social introductions). Personally, having been lucky enough to train and work at several institutions, it was wonderful to reconnect with classmates and colleagues from years ago. It was also fascinating to learn how many of us have crossed paths at different points in our careers to form new associations and friendships. I am proud to say I can now join in excited anticipation ahead of our next gathering. And I look forward to collecting my own number of PCICS stories to share with colleagues and new trainees in the next many years. See you next time!
Senta A. Furman
4th Year Fellow
Children’s Hospital of Colorado