Original Submission: Choosing My Own Adventure: Reflections on the 2021 ASPE Conference from a 2nd-time Attendee

By: Marsha Harman, Rush Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation

I attended my first ASPE conference in Orlando in 2019, and my second from the comfort of my office earlier this summer. The two experiences could not have been more different, not only because one was in person and one was virtual, but because of the difference in how I approached each event.

At my first conference in Orlando in 2019, I wanted to do the conference right. I took advantage of the orientation session for new attendees. I wanted to make sure I was using every possible session time to soak up information and new perspectives. I spoke to Todd Lash, the Publications Committee Chair, about joining. I checked all the boxes.

As I looked ahead to the 2021 conference, I wanted to do the conference well. I had two more years of experience, so I had a clearer idea of what sessions I wanted to explore, and I’d been participating in the Publications Committee, now the Communication and Connections Committee, so I felt more plugged in to the bigger picture, even when our busy event schedule pulled my focus back to the day-to-day details of SP life.

I really loved the freedom of the virtual conference this time around; the schedule felt less like an agenda and more like a Choose Your Own Adventure. I missed the Opening Plenary session, and by the time I was able to watch it, I had already heard presenters in several other sessions rave about Dr. Henry’s engaging and eye-opening presentation. Not only was I able to watch the recording on my own time, I could even pause to take notes or reflect on a new idea. It was delightful.

Another favorite thing about the virtual format is that I was no longer limited by the normal rules of time and space. When two or three interesting sessions were scheduled at the same time, I didn’t have to choose between them; I attended one live and watched the others later.

Without the opportunity to meet other SP Educators in person, I turned to social media and the #ASPE2021 hashtag to check in with other attendees’ experience.  Scrolling through everyone’s selfies with pets, kids or other coworkers, and reading what attendees were excited about helped me feel more connected to this international community.  I had the fun of running the Instagram takeover on Day 2, and the process of considering what kind of posts would be interesting to other attendees led me to think about how all of us were choosing our own adventures throughout that day.

One complicating factor about my experience at ASPE 2021 was that our Sim Center still had events going on during the conference, so I wasn’t able to carve out a continuous time to participate and reflect. I soon found the silver lining: what better way to make sure I’m applying the lessons learned at ASPE than to attend a session about biases in scoring, and then turn my attention to reviewing SP scores an hour later?

It’s hard to wrap up my reflection on ASPE 2021, mostly because I haven’t finished attending it yet. I still plan to watch one or two more sessions – and you can, too!  The conference recordings are available to attendees through September 27 in the Center for SP Methodology. I’ll see you there!

Communications and Connections Committee Mission: “To bring high quality reporting of current research, trends, techniques and information regarding SP methodology and other relevant industry articles to the attention of the membership through the web-based ASPE eNews blog.”

Please provide comments, questions or suggestions about the ASPE eNews Blog here.

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