Take Advantage of Virtual Research Conferences

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives, research conferences have been forced to transition to virtual formats. While it is disheartening to see a rewarding aspect of productive research disappear, virtual research conferences present a tremendous opportunity to the savvy medical student.

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There are two barriers to presenting research at conferences: having research to present and the cost of attending the conference (travel, lodging, food, etc). Research conferences transitioning to virtual formats has eliminated one of these barriers. You can present via Zoom or another medium directly from the comforts of your home.

This should be a huge incentive to finalize research projects and get them submitted. A presentation at a virtual conference will count just as much as any other presentation on your residency application. If the projects you are involved with now are long-term in nature, create your own opportunities to complete quick projects that can be easily submitted.

“A presentation at a virtual conference will count just as much as any other presentation on your residency application.”

Dr. Carter J. Boyd, Founder, Med Student Edge

One false belief that I have encountered is the idea that a project has to be finalized before it can be submitted to a conference for presentation. This is inaccurate. Projects are regularly presented at the national stage with preliminary or incomplete results. Given the time delay between abstract submission, acceptance, and presentation, I have even seen abstracts get accepted with no results…just a description of what their primary and secondary end points were. While I wouldn’t necessarily advise that, you get the point.

Attending virtual research conferences also presents a great learning opportunity. It affords you the opportunity to listen to talks from other presenters and may help give you new ideas for research or collaboration. Fees (especially for medical students) have been waved or highly discounted for most virtual research conferences.

One of the most important aspects of research conferences for medical students is the opportunity to network with fellow medical students, residents, and attendings. With virtual formatting, hopefully conferences will find creative ways to allow for these interactions to occur, even only if in larger group settings.

While it is unfortunate that research conferences will be held virtually for the considerable future, take advantage of the web-based formats to continue to build a competitive CV and bolster your residency application.

Have you submitted any of your work to a virtual research conference?

Back to more resources on performing research in medical school.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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