Alton R. Johnson Jr., DPM, CWSP
Clinical Assistant Professor, Podiatrist, Podiatric Surgeon, and Wound Care Specialist
As a DPM specializing in Wound Care, one of the conferences Dr. Johnson makes an effort to attend every year is the SAWC conference in the Fall. He also attends ACFAS about every other year, based on location and date. Now that he is no longer a resident or provider on the job hunt, his summer availability has opened up
and allows him to go to the APMA National more often (July is a tough month for those in residency or starting any new position). In the past, he has also found value in the PRESENT Residency conferences.
Dr. Johnson said many times he selects conferences based on networking opportunities – to connect with colleagues, friends and meet new people. The second driving factor is often the location and the third is educational topics and speakers.
Being back at the National in Denver, in person, reminded him of how much networking and inspiration happens at conferences. “It was a refresher,” he said about leaving the conference feeling re-inspired. “Monday I came back and I was just ready to grind and start doing products and…techniques that I heard in some of the lectures.”
When we chatted about his thoughts on industry-sponsored, non-CECH lectures and workshops, he mentioned a benefit we had never even considered. He appreciates sponsored workshops, lunches, and dinners where the speaker – whether it is a doctor or a rep – can provide data and science about the efficacy of the product, which he can take back to the hospital for approval. It’s also a unique opportunity to connect with company executives and thought leaders in various specialties.
We asked Dr. Johnson, “What’s one reason young physicians should attend in-person conferences?.” He gave some great feedback with, “If I’m a new physician looking for a job in an area, you’re going to want to go to the meeting [in that area].” Attending a local or regional conference is a great way to make connections when you are looking to relocate to a specific area.
We also wanted his thoughts on the ways meeting planners may be able to more effectively attract young physicians. He said, “For many young providers, being able to attend in-person conferences, cost is a factor.” Even if the destination is nice, the cost of that destination could impact the ability for younger providers to attend. Planners should vary their meetings to cater to different interests including educational goals, destination, and cost-effectiveness.
As always, we want to better understand how we can help our exhibitor family by gaining insight from DPMs who have experience navigating exhibit halls. We asked Dr. Johnson about what he’s observed in terms of “key success factors” for an exhibit hall. “Make the exhibit hall the main attraction so you actually look forward to going to it, like SAWC and ACFAS.”
Another way to have people linger in the hall longer is to provide more food, snacks, and maybe even mini-bars placed throughout the exhibit hall. Having a casual flow like that generates more organic interactions with less sales pressure. Organizers also should limit the number of sponsored lunch options and the number of attendees at each a bit more to increase lunch time traffic in the exhibit hall.
We thank Dr. Johnson for taking the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us!