Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The APHA experience

Hi all and greetings from the Mile High City. Today marks day 3 of the conference and it's about ready to end. The APHA conference is unlike any other I have attended. The size is just staggering. I knew the public health community was big, and APHA is just a small sample of that population.

Upon registering, attendees receive a book about the size of the JC Penney catalog that includes all of the sessions. There is something here for everyone, and there's lots to see. There are 5 time slots with sessions, and there's around well over 50 sessions in each time slot. I counted one session at random, and it had 78 sessions. During each time slot, there is a poster session. I'm afraid to try to count how many posters are presented every hour.

My poster session went well. I presented right after the welcoming address, and the exhibit hall was flooded with participants. I don't think I had more than 60 seconds between people coming by to ask questions. Many people said that they were maximizing their time by identifying posters and sessions they wanted to see. With a conference this size, you have to do that. And you still only see a fraction of what you want to see.

Let's not forget about the time needed in the exhibit hall to get free swag... Actually, the exhibit hall was pretty educational as well. I learned about some services for students offered by SAS, saw many, many new textbooks out on the market, and I was able to talk to some universities about post-doctoral fellowships and faculty positions. They were also giving away free flu shots and chair massages. I do think I picked up way too many pens this time so guess what my colleagues back home are getting from me when I return...

It was great to see faces from USC that I don't always see, faces of previous cohorts from HSPM, former graduate assistants from the Center, hang with Center staff, and meet a lot of interesting people from all over. My hotel was in the suburbs, but wound up being filled with other conference attendees. It was not unusual to strike up a conversation on the train headed to or from the conference, or wound up sitting next to a conference attendee at the restaurant next to the hotel. Just goes to show you that public health is everywhere... :)

But after all of this information and talking, I'm wiped out. Signing off... ---Jeff

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