Each year, optometry holds a multitude of conferences for both doctors and students to attend. These conferences range from politically-oriented to specialty-specific. As students, it is hard to take time between classes, clinic, and studying to travel to a conference. Not only are these events time consuming, they also cost lots of money! So, why should students bother?
The answer is simple: Doors will open. Conferences bring together experts in the field. They are excellent opportunities for students to get to know those experts, along with any students who also hold similar interests. For example, I am interested in low vision rehabilitation and ocular disease. During conferences like the American Optometric Association, there are small sessions for students to attend in order to learn more about these topics. Attending the session on low vision rehabilitation, I was able to learn more about the field in its current state as well as how it is changing. Additionally, I met many other students there who also had similar interests and was able to keep in contact with them regarding other events or opportunities.
All this sounds great, right? But how could I ever afford to attend? My next answer is: Travel grants. There are many grants available when you are looking in the correct places. Each individual conference usually provides their own grants and other companies and associations related to that aspect of the field will, as well. You simply have to search a little and ask if anything is offered.
The knowledge you’ll gain and connections you’ll make will greatly outweigh any additional studying or makeup clinic shifts you may have to do in order to attend. Finally, who doesn’t love the opportunity to travel to a new city every now and then?