As a fellow approaching DDW®, it is worthwhile to first think about what you want to get out of the conference.  In order to ensure that you don’t miss an important session, I recommend reviewing the program before hand1 and choosing one to two “can’t miss” talks each day for your personal itinerary through MyDDW2. This is an excellent way to ensure you will see some talks you want to see, but also giving you flexibility to attend smaller talks. While the presentations are wonderful, career advancement and networking is also an essential component of this national conference and should not be overlooked.

Breaking Research
I spend a significant amount of my time as a fellow researching in IBD, and am particularly excited for the emphasis on the microbiome in health and disease states. Lectures such as “Microbes in Inflammatory Disease Pathogenesis” on Sunday, May 4 from 8 to 9 a.m. and “The Future of FMT — Promise and Challenges for Technologies of the Future” on Monday, May 5 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. are key lectures that I will be sure to attend.

Hands-On Experience
Another great opportunity for fellows in the unique “hands-on” training offered at DDW3. Hands-on training is an extra cost ($175 to $225), but can be well worth the money. The training programs range in topics including “Hemorrhoid Therapy,” “EMR,” “ERCP,” and “Luminal Stenting”. Hands-on training is a great way to add some variety to your day and participate in some interactive learning.

Postgraduate Courses
Often fellows attend the post-graduate courses held at DDW to brush up on board review material. These courses are fantastic reviews and designed to focus on the GI boards. In addition to reviewing key areas within GI, they also offer sessions about preparing for life after fellowship. It is worthwhile to check out the curriculum4 and decide for yourself if this is a priority.

Networking
Last, but certainly not least, is the opportunity to network at DDW. Both ASGE and AGA offer sessions focused for fellows to network as well as meet potential mentors in the field5. This is an amazing opportunity to meet national leaders and make personal connections that can open new doors for your research or career. The networking shouldn’t stop there. Take time to go through the smaller talks and view the posters. You never know when a chat over a poster will turn into a research collaboration or even a job opportunity. You could even have an updated version of your CV ready to email to potential mentors or bosses.

DDW is an enormous event and it is impossible to attend everything. To make the most out of your trip, review the agenda beforehand and note a few priority sessions for each day. MyDDW offers a great way to plan a DDW itinerary. Make sure to give yourself some flexibility in your schedule though, and always be ready to network!



Notes:

1, 2 To search for sessions at DDW® 2014, visit MyDDW and search Scientific Sessions. You can sort by session type, society, day, time and much more.

For Sessions on Navigating Fellowship Years:
Search MyDDW under By Special Interest, click on “AGA Trainee and Young GI Picks.”

View all ASGE Hands-On Workshops and registration fees on the DDW website.

2014 Postgraduate Courses include:

AGA Spring Postgraduate Course: Best Practices at the Bedside: Critical Thinking for Common Conditions
Trainees are eligible to register at reduced rates.

ASGE Annual Postgraduate Course: Practice of Endoscopy in 2014: Integration of Science, Art and Technology
Trainees are eligible to register at reduced rates.

ASGE Fellows Networking Session
Saturday, May 3, 5 to 6 p.m.

AGA Mentor and Advisor Program: Reception for Trainees/Young GIs – An Evening with AGA Mentors:
Saturday, May 3, 5:45 to 7:15 p.m. Please RSVP by April 18 to attend.
Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

AGA Trainee and Young GI Reception
Sunday, May 4, 7 to 9 p.m. Please RSVP by April 18 to attend.

Byron Vaughn, MD graduated from Drexel University Medical School in Philadelphia, PA. He completed his Internal Medicine Residency at Beth-Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA and is currently in his final year of GI fellowship at BIDMC. His clinical and research interests are in Inflammatory Bowel Disease and include fecal transplantation and therapeutic drug monitoring. Dr. Vaughn is also an active AGA member.