Author: A. Todd Ham, R. EEG T., CLTM
What drives most of what I do in this profession is a sincere passion for and interest in what we do. Building beyond that, the reason I choose to go to in-person events when possible, such as ASET conferences, includes the opportunity to be in an environment (including the people) in which I feel a compatibility with. It must be the case that most, if not all, the attendees also enjoy neurodiagnostics and so share with me the common interests associated with our unique field.
There are of course the educational courses (in-person) and the formalized centralized venue for committees to meet and work together in the context of a familiar environment. There are certainly different viewpoints on remote attendance; for me, the contrasting of virtual versus actual interaction transcends to my job role. While we have the option to work from home, I miss the interpersonal interactions that are only possible by physically going to the worksite. In addition to that, it is better for me to be able to have a sort of partition between the domestic realm and the professional one. I certainly have worked many, many days from home and it’s not something I am struggling to adjust away from now that I’m working in the office again. There are also those responsibilities I have that can’t reasonably be performed from the home environment.
I do recognize the benefit and utility of virtual communication and work; our healthcare infrastructure would have likely collapsed without this medium. Its existence has undoubtedly saved many jobs including but not limited to those in the healthcare domain, and it has served as an essential proxy for our in-person educational institutions associated with the very wide spectrum, including small children, as well as postgraduate education. It has also allowed those parents with small children to continue working while also caring for their children. I wonder if traffic-related injuries and fatalities during work commutes have significantly been reduced; I would think so.
If there is a choice available, I would in general choose the in-person, on-site option. From my perspective, there are experiences associated with an actual physical attendance that can’t equitably be substituted with virtual interaction.
This is an evolving, novel world we now live in now with respect to social media and virtual communication, even when not considering pandemic-related adaptations. I do think that there are negative psychological impacts which can result from reducing – or worse – eliminating a human being’s outlets for such vital primal needs as interpersonal interaction, recurrent relocations to new physical environments (such as a different town while on vacation), and perhaps related to the previous, a variety of environmental and natural sensory inputs.
Of course, the preceding explanation presumes that there is minimal risk to others or myself in the context of traveling to and attending an in-person event during the pandemic. I am vaccinated so this provides some peace of mind. It also presumes that it is financially reasonable for people to travel to such an event. Our institution has been forced to essentially eliminate funding for such educational conferences, at least for the foreseeable future. So, if the attendee will not have to spend nearly the amount of attendance fees by attending virtually, that is understandable. But there are opportunities for those who may be less likely to attend in-person due to financial constraints. In fact, it is possible to attend the ASET Annual Conference for FREE! Thanks to the ASET Foundation partnerships with a variety of corporate sponsors, scholarships are available for ASET members. Below are links for more information. While it may be too late to apply for this year’s conference, keep these in mind for 2022!
The Company Sponsored Scholarship (CSS) program. Covers the full cost of registration at the ASET Annual Conference. Some scholarships may, in addition, offer financial assistance towards travel costs.