Today’s post is contributed by Ryan Balmes DPT. Ryan Balmes graduated in May 2011, currently working as an orthopedic resident at LSU-Shreveport. You can follow him on Twitter @RyanBalmesPT and read his blog at www.ryanbalmes.com.
The first Combined Sections Meeting I attended was during my last year in PT school at New Orleans in 2011. Now as a recent graduate and new professional at CSM 2012, I felt a sense of accomplishment to be considered a colleague among others who are also enthusiastic about our profession and eager to learn how to better help our patients.
Combined Sections Meeting this year was one that I will never forget. Here are my top four insights from CSM2012:
1. The educational courses were helpful in shaping my clinical reasoning, and they also served as starting points for deeper research in the literature.
Taking a break from patient care to attend CSM this year allowed me focused time to learn new concepts and reinforce my current knowledge base. Since all the courses were rooted in the literature, the provided references has led me to read the cited articles directly. Reading the articles after CSM has given me a deeper understanding of the content provided from the courses, which has helped me apply the new concepts in my practice..
2. Networking with fellow colleagues was as beneficial as the courses.
The educational courses were definitely the highlight of my weekend, and the additional benefit was networking with others at CSM. I really enjoyed meeting new colleagues and reuniting with old ones at CSM. Meeting new colleagues broadened my network further, which was very helpful for a new grad like me. Catching up with former classmates allowed us to share our experiences of our new careers. I particularly enjoyed meeting the people whose blogs I read on a regular basis online, like the authors of this WebPT blog. There’s nothing like talking to someone face to face.
3. The opportunities are seemingly endless for a new grad.
As evident from the number of recruiters and post-professional programs available, such as residencies and fellowships, a new grad’s career can lead to many possible directions. What I’ve found most difficult is choosing the “right” path. All my mentors have advised me however that there is no such thing as a “right” path but instead a “best” path. CSM helped me realized that I can find the best path through the help of mentors, networking contacts, and by staying true to my personal goals.
4. There’s no place like home.
My time in Chicago was a nice mini-vacation away from my established routine of life in the clinic. In the end though, I was very happy to return home. Part of me was excited to implement the new concepts I learned at clinic, but I was also looking forward to a home cooked meal!
For my fellow new professionals, if you didn’t get to attend CSM this year, I highly recommend you to attend CSM2013. Attending a national conference like CSM is definitely beneficial to your early career.