By Thomas L. Wall
I remember my very first AHRA Annual Meeting in 2008 in Denver where I attended the Basic Track. Since then I have been hooked, only missing one meeting since my first. I learned a lot from the sessions, and they also reinforced my current practice. Each one was engaging and challenged me to keep thinking of new and innovative ways to keep ahead of our ever changing field. In addition they provided the tools to do it. I met quite a few people I continue to keep in contact with and have seen at every Annual Meeting I have attended since.
I have to say the networking and balance of learning and fun is unparalleled when I look at other conferences I attend. I am still amazed at the lineup of educational content and thought provoking keynote speakers that continue to magically appear each year. I have fond memories of every meeting I’ve attended, both from the education I have gleaned and the expanding network of friends/colleagues I have garnered. I am honored to be a member of the design team, working with a group of super people. Now I will get more specific.
In Denver I was lucky enough to have a coworker, Lori Burns, on the design team. I just kind of went where I was pointed and ended up volunteering, something I have done ever since, and met a lot of great people in the process. I will never forget the theme party, which is kinda my element. I dressed up as a snowboarder and had a fantastic time – so much so people thought I was part of the entertainment.
In Washington DC (2010) I met Roland Rhynus walking into the conference, and we chatted as if we had been friends our whole lives. He had an awesome lanyard he had received from a friend, and it was at that point I realized that AHRA builds lasting relationships all around the country and world. He kept steering me in the right direction, and I have a picture of us at the party dressed like rappers. Anyone sensing a theme here?
Dallas/Grapevine (2011) might have been my favorite meeting so far. I met Kyle Kellum, who was a first time attendee, and Lori Burns and I did for him what had been done for me in the past, taking him under our wings and pointing him in the right direction. He ended up being picked for the design team, and now that I am also on it he has been my design team planning meeting roommate. I met more great people and added more dance partners.
Orlando (2012) was awesome. I learned more about our field and forged even more relationships, meeting Mark Toatley and Wes Harden. Unbeknownst to me at the time, all three of us would soon be asked to serve on the Annual Meeting Design Team. I was asked while I was there by Bill Johnson, which I consider an honor and a privilege. At the theme party I again added more dance partners. You know who you are.
Minne”fabulous” (2013) will always be extra special to me, as I had active participation in the planning and organization as a member of the design team. The keynote speakers were amazing, and I had a great time in the exhibit hall with newfound friends. The theme party was a blast for any DEVOted fan of the 80’s era.
In summary, the Annual Meeting is a treasure trove of education and developing peer contacts while having a fantabulous time. This year will be no exception. From the speakers, to the course content, to the spirited discussions on healthcare and the world in general till the wee hours of the morning, to the friendships forged, to the dance partners found, the AHRA Annual Meeting has it all. I have many more stories to share but I am out of space. Find me at the meeting – I will be happy to share. Better yet we can write our own.
What was the first Annual Meeting you ever attended? Send your story to Kerri Hart-Morris (firstname.lastname@example.org), and it could be published here too!
Thomas L. Wall is the supervisor ultrasound – radiology at Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, NJ. He can be reached at email@example.com.