Conferences designed specifically for women in medicine can provide immense value—just make sure the conference focus areas align with your own professional development goals, desired skills, and interests.
Medical conferences are a great opportunity for networking, potentially connecting you with valuable mentors, collaborators, or peers. Expanding your community can be hugely beneficial to your career and provide much-needed support in a demanding field.
Financial assistance from your institution or from the conference host society may be available to offset attendance costs and make participation more feasible. These are typically offered in the form of scholarships, travel grants, reimbursements, and paid time off.
The number of conferences geared specifically toward women in medicine is growing. Medical conferences present excellent educational experiences, networking opportunities, and can help you advance in your career. However, the time and finances needed for attendance should be considered when deciding if this is the right move for you.
Here’s how to evaluate whether or not attending such a conference is right for you.
Consider the conference focus
Women in Medicine conferences vary in their content and areas of focus. Some concentrate on career development topics, such as salary negotiation, leadership trajectories, work-life balance, and advancing in academia. Others hone in on specific clinical issues, such as women's health, sex and gender differences in disease, or diversity in research and clinical trials.
Some are offered by medical specialty societies, like the American College of Cardiology’s Women in Cardiology conference or the Association of Women Surgeons’ Annual Conference; others, like the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Women’s Association, are more general and have program agendas that span the gamut of healthcare. Think about which focus areas align most closely with your own goals and interests when deciding if a conference may be worthwhile.
Assess the networking potential
One of the biggest draws of these events is the ability to connect with fellow women in medicine across specialties, career stages, and geographic regions.
If you are looking to expand your professional network, find mentors and sponsors, meet potential collaborators, or simply find community, take a look at the attendee list and networking opportunities.
Seek financial support from your institution
Many institutions offer travel grants, professional development funds, paid time off, or reimbursement to attend academic conferences relevant to an employee's work. If receiving financial assistance makes attendance more feasible, investigate what options might be available through your hospital network, university department, training program, practice group, or other affiliated institutions.
Scholarships may also be available from the conference host societies themselves. Having full or partial support can offset costs and make attendance much more feasible.
Weigh personal factors
Think about your own career timing, workload, and financial considerations when deciding which conference, if any, to attend. Conferences often require taking time away from work and familial obligations, so determine if you can make it fit your current schedule.
The cost to attend these events also varies widely; be sure the fees align with your budget and are justified by the conference offerings.
A step toward achieving your career goals
I personally believe that every woman in medicine should attend a Women in Medicine conference or meeting at least once in her early- to mid-career.
In my experience, these conferences can provide you with invaluable perspective and direction in pursuing your career goals. Most of these conferences or section meetings feature female physicians who are well-established in their fields and are thus able to pass along advice on navigating the challenges faced by women in the medical field.
"Along with the networking opportunities available, it is quite possible that what you get out of attending such a conference could change the course of your career."
— Yasmine S. Ali, MD, MSCI, FACC, FACP
If leadership is your aim, you can learn invaluable lessons in management, negotiation, finding mentors, and more. Those wanting to excel in academia can gain skills in areas related to obtaining research funding, navigating tenure, developing educational curricula, and balancing patient care alongside publishing demands.
For any objective—whether increasing revenue in private practice, overcoming gender bias, exploring non-clinical career options, or optimizing work-life balance—there is likely programming and people available to help strategize making goals a reality.
Attending a professional conference specifically designed for women in medicine can provide immense value—from learning cutting-edge clinical information in women's health to forming relationships that can support your career for years to come.
Use the factors above to assess if attending a particular conference aligns with your goals, interests, budget, and availability before registering. With so many exceptional events now available for women in medicine, finding the right one to attend can greatly enrich your professional journey.
What this means for you
The right Women in Medicine conference has the potential to provide support, motivation, contacts, and targeted skill-building to further the future you envision for your medical career. Attending relevant conferences can help you learn new skills, insider knowledge, and networks to move toward specific career goals, including leadership, subspecialty training, research, academic positions, private practice, and more. The opportunity to collaborate and network with other women in medicine can better motivate and inspire you toward meeting personal and professional milestones.