A few weeks ago I was presented with the opportunity to fly out to New Orleans with my classmates to attend APTA CSM 2018. Without the fancy abbreviations, that means the huge physical therapy conference that happens every year! I just so happened to be lucky enough to go when it was in good ol New Orleans.
So naturally the first thing I did when I hopped off the plane (and took an extremely overpriced Uber to the hotel) was go on the search for Cafe Du Monde’s famous powdery beignets and a Hurricane to sip on. The mission was accomplished with some of my friends in the program who I hadn’t seen since we parted ways in October. It was a really cool experience to share stories of what we had been up to and talk about how insane it is that we are all almost REAL physical therapists. After a much enjoyed nap, I scouted out some NoLa seafood then hit Bourbon St….because what else would you do on your first night in the city?
Once I got a day of touristy behaviors out of the way, it was time to enjoy the business aspect of my trip! At this point in our PT careers most of my classmates, including myself, have started to gravitate towards a specialty. If you know me or if you have read my blog you know that pediatrics is mine. So when a looooooooong (I am not exaggerating) list of different lectures, presentations, and posters is presented to you including all of the different specialties of PT is given to you, you get overwhelmed! I felt like such a newbie, I had no idea how huge this event would be. I suppose the fact that it was a record breaking attendance of 17,000 should have clued me in. But hey, all I am saying is there were options EVERYWHERE and multiple options every hour! How was I supposed to choose?! I say that’s the nerd in me just eager to bite into everything and learn about every cool topic available. Sadly, I had to narrow down my choices!
I ended up exploring the vendors section in the morning which resulted in a huge bag full of PT goodies such as goniometers, tape measures, highlighters, and stress balls. My most prized possession was a pop socket I won from giving out my email (don’t tell anyone but I used a fake email for most booths…oops!) I met some cool people during this exploration and as time went on I felt more comfortable in my own skin and even ended up marketing myself as a new grad to some companies, just to practice. I was able to sit in a pediatrics lecture that morning as well before my stomach began talking to me and asking for some fried chicken “so good that it’ll make you slap yo mama!”
Day two of the conference was really the special day for me! I had built a much better understanding of how to structure my day and include as much peds stuff in as possible to surround the time slot allotted for me to present my own research poster! I attended an awesome lecture bright and early in the morning on treating hypermobility disorders from pediatrics through adulthood which really got my gear turning. I headed back to the vendors section to kill time in between…and to get more free goodies (don’t judge me!) Next up was my favorite time of the entire conference, Pediatric Platform presentations! I loved hearing other students and pediatric PTs speak about their latest discoveries. It gave me a glimpse of what my future will hold since I am really interested in furthering research in pediatric PT therapy. I also got to sit with and chat with some PTs who are EXACTLY where I would like to be in a few short months.
Here the time was, time for me to present my research poster alongside two of my classmates and our mentor. I was incredibly nervous, what if someone asked me a question I didn’t know? What if I made a fool of myself and made UM look bad? Then I remembered, I know way more about this subject than anyone coming up to ask questions! They are sitting in front of my poster because they want to learn, and I slowly eased into the position of doing the teaching. It was a nerve racking experience but it resulted in my confidence level going up and I actually am looking forward to being able to present again at a future conference!
All in All, CSM in New Orleans was a blast. I got to be a bit of a tourist, learn a ton, and do some teaching as well. It’s just another thing added onto the list of really cool opportunities UM has presented me with. 🙂
Don’t worry, I know one day exploring NoLa wasn’t enough but I am headed back in October to celebrate a close friend’s bachelorette… I probably will skip a blog post on that trip, haha!