The 2018 Vascular Annual Meeting (VAM) in Boston, Massachusetts gave me an inside look at cutting-edge vascular surgery research through innovative educational seminars and mentoring/networking sessions designed to foster and encourage a path in the field of vascular surgery. Research is one of the fundamental pillars of medicine, so I would recommend anyone interested in vascular surgery to attend this conference. Here are a few takeaways I had from the experience and what future medical students should know before going:
The vascular surgery field is up to date on their technology, so download the app for the conference on your phone. They should email you the details about how to sync up the app with your personal account and you should make the most of it. If you’re big on social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you’ll make the most of this feature
I would recommend doing research with Dr. Amendola during your M1 winter break and submit an abstract and poster for the VAM conference by late January/early February. Dr. Amendola will prepare you well for the interactive poster session where you can present your research, so this is a chance to talk to other students, residents, and attendings in the industry about your work
There is a diversity and travel scholarship you should apply to prior to registering for the conference. Students apply well in advance of the actual meeting, so be sure to keep an eye out on the SVS website for when the application opens. The scholarship entails you to several events that you normally would not be able to attend like a hands-on suturing workshop, skills station challenges, and a mentor program (more about the mentor program next!)
The SVS mentor program pairs students with vascular surgeons to help budding and engaged students learn more about the field of vascular surgery. This is a fantastic way to connect with a program director or a professor who knows what it is like to work as a vascular surgeon day in and day out and what steps you can make towards applying for residency and beyond. This also gives you a chance to ask about acting internship rotations at their school!
Go to every session, reception, lecture, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Many of the sessions are targeted towards fellows or attendings but go and soak up as much as you can while mingling with the other attendees. It is a chance to learn with no pressure so go and listen and see which topics or ideas spark your interest in the field of vascular surgery. I threw in the breakfast, lunch, and dinner because it’s another opportunity to connect with peers and future mentors over amazing catered food…and because it’s hard to turn down free food
Vascular surgery is a tight-knit community so make sure to network! Dr. Amendola will introduce you to device representatives, residency directors, previous MCV graduates, and more, so make sure to take full advantage of all the connections. Vascular surgeons are a welcoming group of people so meet as many people as you can
Speaking of networking, there is a residency fair on the third day of the conference that gives medical students an opportunity to meet residents, fellows, and residency directors of various universities and hospitals. Time is rather limited so pick out a few schools you are interested in and go introduce yourself! Think of each meeting as a mini-interview so be sure to listen, engage, and ask solid questions
VCU has a strong presence at the conference (we had the most posters and medical students attend the meeting), so enjoy the experience with your fellow classmates! VSIG has been growing every year and we are having more medical students presenting research at these national conferences year after year. VAM cycles being held at large cities in North America (I would say USA, but they also meet in Toronto!) so it’s a memorable experience going with colleagues
If you are an M1 student, I would absolutely recommend connecting with Dr. Amendola early and get in on the ground floor that is vascular surgery. It’s a burgeoning field and he’s the mentor to help you figure out if vascular surgery is right for you. If you have any questions or just want to chat, my information is below!
President VCU VSIG