Author: Kathy Johnson, R. EEG/EP T., RPSGT, FASET
It is very coincidental that we have been asked to write about why we attend in-person ASET conferences… as the 2021 conference may very well be my last. While I am happy to be retiring (after 47 years in the field), it is a bittersweet feeling to be contemplating the changes it will bring to my life. Besides the obvious separation anxiety from my life’s work and my work family, retirement means I will probably not be attending future ASET conferences. While there are always the obvious educational opportunities, which I am sure my colleagues will describe in vivid detail, here are the other reasons I love to come to the annual ASET conference.
First of all, I have traveled to many cities that I would never have visited on my own. While most of us would likely plan a trip to Disney World at some time in our life, would you really think of going to St. Louis or Pittsburgh or Minneapolis or Louisville on vacation? I certainly would probably never have visited these, or many of the other meeting sites if they had not been chosen as the host city for the ASET annual meeting… and the meeting cities have always been GREAT! Traveling with ASET to places which are not on my holiday bucket list has given me some of the best memories of the past 40+ years.
In-person ASET conferences gave me the courage to step up on that platform myself… even though giving a lecture was not something I would ever have imagined doing. I was trained on the job and worked in the same, relatively small hospital for my entire career. I did not have prestigious physician mentors that some of our colleagues have had the opportunity to work with and learn from. But MAYBE I had something that could be helpful to someone in the audience… even if it was just one person. Over the years, I became more comfortable presenting lectures, and since then, I have been able to present to others, even including critical care nurses.
Attendance at the in-person conference also inspired me to take the leap and run for the ASET board… subsequently I served two terms as a board member and two terms as Secretary-Treasurer. My time on the board taught me about the field we all love, beyond the technical how-to perform procedures, and more about how to elevate the profession, how to assist the next generation of Neurodiagnostic technologists. By learning the ins and outs of how a professional society works, I was encouraged to help with the founding of state professional societies, both for Neurodiagnostics and sleep medicine.
And last, but most importantly, are the friends I have made through attending ASET conferences. If I need an answer to a question, a referral to an expert, an opinion on equipment or new procedure, or just someone who understands and will listen to me vent… all I have to do is reach out to one of my ASET family members. I have done so many times in the past and I have always gotten what I needed… not to mention the side benefit of surprising my administrators when I tell them I can call my friend at Duke or UMPC or Cleveland Clinic or one of many other prestigious resources for an answer to a problem. Perhaps this is something that others experience from their professional group… but not only is our group unique in what we do, we are also unique in how we support each other.
So, even though I am retiring, I hope to continue my affiliation with ASET, and I would encourage everyone to make the effort to attend in-person conferences if you can… It is well worth the investment.