I thought I share with you my experience at last week American Medical Student Association’s Annual Convention in Crystal City (where OPM’s conference will be this May). First let me say that everyone who plans on attending OPM’s conference needs to bring their patience with them—because I’ve never experienced anything worse than the Capital Beltway traffic!!!
Overall the conference was pretty good—which is good seeing as how it cost 115$ for registration and 12$ per day to park at the hotel. They had an exhibit hall throughout the few days with tons of booths (Kaplan, PDA resources, medical associations, medical bookstores, Littman Stethoscopes etc…) The exhibit hall was huge and there were several giveaways and raffles. It was nice to talk to many people from the booths. Throughout the days they had discussions of various topics in some of the ballrooms–like talks on the NHSC, how to choose a specialty, how to write a personal statement for application, how not to make mistakes on your application, anxiety and depression in med students, how to get into med school…etc… There was of course elections of new officers, award ceremonies, advocacy group meetings, rallying on capitol hill. The convention closed with a medical school fair on Saturday—with several “reps” from various med schools handing out info on their schools. I was somewhat disappointed in the med school fair—there weren’t many schools there—and of the ones that were represented, there was Harvard, Baylor, Dartmouth, UCLA, Columbia… yada yada. Schools like that for me are only a dream—so I didn’t talk too much to those reps. There were few DO schools there (around 4 or 5 I think).
Overall it was a good experience and I’m glad I went. It was a little overpriced though (I think). The thing that struck me the most though, was that there were hardly ANY non-trads there like myself. It seemed like everyone was right out of high school!!! I must be getting old!!! I was soooo tired of people asking, "What year are you?–thinking that I was an undergraduate pre med. I mean, do I really look 19 or 20?? I’ll be 30 soon!!! I would respond with, "Well…I’m not sure…I’m going on my 8th year (between grad school and my pre reqs).
I thought I’d share this with you guys. I think that conferences are a great way to meet people, network, and learn new things. I’m really looking forward to OPM’s conference though----I’m sure I’ll be somewhat more comfortable with the rest of the grandmas and grandpas there!!!
Well…I'm not sure…I'm going on my 8th year (between grad school and my pre reqs).
doesn't that just sum it up nicely…
To Anna, Lizzie and all the other members of OPM who also belong to AMSA. Remember, the majority of the membership of AMSA consists of traditional, very traditional students. 19-23 for the undergrads and probably 22-26 for the med student membership.
However, that is not the case with OPM. With almost all of our membership being over 25, and a great number of those in their 30s and 40s, and even some like myself, in their 50s, our conference in DC May 29-June 1 will be much more oriented towards our needs and concerns.
As Chair of the Projects and Planning Committee, I can tell you that our opening speaker, Dr. Randy Hunt, now an assistant professor in a family medicine residency program for the Univ. of Oklahoma-Tulsa, was himself a nontraditional med student in his mid-30s. Because I have known Randy for several years, I can tell you he will bring a new sense of what it means to be a nontraditional student to our conference, sharing his own experiences and giving advice and guidance to the members attending.
Many of our other speakers will also discuss issues of importance to us as nontraditional students. Look at the home page and check out the schedule. You will find many interesting and exciting topics!
I can also tell you that we will have a great number of raffle prizes which will be everything from fun prizes such as surgical hats to valuable prizes such as consultation packages, shadowing opportunities, etc.
So, please, plan now to attend the conference. Call the Crystal City Marriott in Alexandria as soon as possible to reserve your room, being sure to tell them you are part of OPM, thus ensuring your room rate of $129/night (compared to the normal rate of over $200/night).
Hope to see you there!!
Washington, DC has traffic and rush hour is brutal. Charlottesville has traffic and rush hour is brutal. The big difference with Washington, DC is that you have plenty of public transportation. There is no need to even attempt to drive a car. Many places, especially the tourist locations, even discourage your auto by steep parking rates. You can buy a one-day pass for Metro that costs $5 and ride all day. No parking worries and no traffic to contend with.
Otherwise, stay off the roads in DC during evening rush hour which starts at 3:30 pm on weekdays; 5:30am on weekdays. Weekend traffic is not too bad. Do keep in mind that we are in a state of war so be prepared to spend extra time at the airports and be prepared to show identification. Your current drivers liscence should be enough but don’t bring expired ID! Lines to everything are longer because of the security checks. We live in 2003, during a war and after September 11th. OPMs convention is in Washington, DC, one of the two locations that were attacked on September 11th. All of the security around national monuments is a bit tighter but for good reason. We want to protect each other and our national treasures.
Don’t let the increased security measure dampen your spirit for having a good time. Washington, DC in the spring is a wonderous site to behold. There are beautiful prospects from Arlington Cemetary, the Washington Monument and Capitol Hill. The gardens are beautiful and a walk along th Potomac River in the spring is great. Some of my best moments were spreading a blanket at the end of the runway at National Airport, bringing my laptop computer and studying for USMLE Step I and Step II. Great restaurants, great museums (you have to see the Hope Diamond) and great experiences are but a Metro stop from the hotel in Crystal City. Within walking distance are hundreds of little shops too.
When I come in, I am leaving my car at my future in-laws house in Arlington, and taking Metro! I don’t want the hassle of even thinking about traffic or paying for parking anywhere. I am bringing my running shoes and my walking shoes. I am going to stroll along the Potomac and enjoy springtime in the Nation’s capital. I am also going to meet some of the folks of OPM that have been my friends over the past four to five years! I am going to relax and get some good information from the speakers who will be at the convention.
You can’t imagine how much fun we have had when Old Man Dave has come to town or when JP popped in to interview for medical school. Mary and I also joined a couple of non-traditional women medical students a last year for an “old ladies night out”. We drank beer at a great little South American joint in Wheaton, MD and had a great time. The convention this year will probably eclipse those events. You circle of friends and contacts in the DC area will exponentially increase and you will get good information at the same time. Can’t think of a better way to head into the last month of my PGY-1 year of Surgery!