Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Stop Going to Conferences for the Lectures. Listen to Podcasts Instead.

Going to medical conferences has many benefits -- but with up-to-the-minute reporting of breaking medical news from conferences, the wide availability of free podcasts, and the inexpensiveness of MP3 players -- listening to lectures is not one of them.

Consider the cost of a typical conference. Figure $250 for airfare, $300 (at least) for hotel, and another $300 (give or take) for the conference itself. That's at least $850 for a few days (not even counting potential lost revenue). In total, some conferences can cost $1500 or more.

Compare this to an alternative. The most inexpensive iPod, the shuffle, costs about $79. Using the specialty of nephrology and hypertension as an example, the site HDCN.com provides countless lectures from most major nephrology conferences for $85 a year. And other sites for other specialities also provide high-quality podcasts inexpensively or for free. (If you'd like to recommend sites with medical podcasts for other specialities, please leave a comment.)

When the cost of a single conference -- at $850 to $1500 -- is compared with the cost of listening to a year's worth of podcasts, anywhere, whenever you want to -- at roughly $79 to $170 -- it's easy to see that the primary benefit of conferences is not the lectures, but travel and socializing. And the benefit of face-to-face time is not trivial. I've spoken to a few veteran conference-goers who admit to skipping all the lectures (with the exception of one or two entertaining speakers) and spending the majority of time interacting with colleagues and friends.

I've posted a four part "Introduction to Medical Podcasts" on the Tech Medicine blog, here.

1 comment:

Huck said...

Airfare $250

Hotel $750

Meeting Fee $1100

Seeing the look on your arch-rival's face when you present data that undermines his latest hypothesis...Priceless.

Seriously, there is a tremendous amount to be learned via the internet. Indeed the ACC podcasts are outstanding, for example. The human interaction of meetings, breaking bread with colleagues, critiqueing each others new projects has a value that can't have a dollar value placed on it.