.... was Awesome!
As usual, I love Chicago. And it's always nice when you're working with a very generous travel budget. We stayed at the Hyatt Regency. The food here was great. Had shrimp and crabs and fish one night with my old buddies; the other night we had dinner at this interesting sushi fusion place called Sushi Samba. The food and service were excellent. I think it was Japanese/Peruvian (or was it Spanish?). Good music, and even bikini-clad Carnivale dancers! (and no, it wasn't THAT kind of place, in case you wonder). The meeting was huge. A few thousand people, in several meeting halls and ballrooms. And as is the usual practice, so many pharmaceutical people, setting up these very elaborate huge-screen TV, colourful stalls. This one company had a certified fitness instructor prance around showing off this workout gadget, and once there were enough people, she'd give them out for free. You kinda realize (perhaps with a tinge of guilt) how big an industry this is, for them to spend tens of thousands of dollars just trying to impress physicians and do their thing. It gets murky here, and I don't want to start an ethics discussion, but they do spend a lot (at the patient's expense?) to attract us. Having said that, these companies have provided tons of educational grants too I guess.
The one pharmaceutical stall that takes the cake, must have been this company that dressed models up in body-organ costumes, and took pictures with us doctors, which were then printed onto complimentary mousepads! Hilarious!
"Mom, lookie here, I took a picture with Ms. Adipocyte!"
(I wonder if it sucks to have a job like that though)
The toys. Always an interesting issue. I read this in Atul Gawande's book Complications, and he describes this phenomenon well. Doctors and surgeons going crazy over cheap freebies. At this conference, people were making at least US$150,000 a year. Some in private practice, probably upwards of a quarter of a million (well, we're just endocrinologists you know. None of that $2.5 million per annum pay). But, in a huge exhibit hall with all this bright fluorescent lights not unlike kryptonite, people waiver in their strength. And go crazy over 2 dollar pens or 3 dollar thermo-mugs or lapel pins or measuring tapes or PDA software or theater tickets or laser pointers. Despite our salary. And these drug companies give out a bag for you to carry your toys in. And some people walk around with bags and bags full. Just smile at the drug reps, maybe listen to their schpiel for 30 seconds and walk away with a new laser pointer. I've heard for some surgical conferences they have given away Rayban sunglasses.
Ok, enough of that. Now about the conference proper. The talks and seminars were mostly good. My presentation went well. I an award for my presentation and got a nice prize. I had a feeling that was gonna happen when I had 3 different judges come by my poster and asked me to present to them when everyone else had only one. The seminars have been good. Educational, good discussions. You realize too where you work and the impact your hospital's name carries. Because you meet all this people who present 'interesting' cases you've seen so many times, and their references include the professors you work with all the time. And you tell them, Oh yea, I know Dr. S. I had lunch with him last week. And how people are fighting to get into the lectures your colleagues are giving.
Disappointingly, again, no Malaysian doctors are here. 5 from Indonesia, some from Singapore. Numerous other countries, but none from home. Oh well. Was hoping to meet some new people.
Ok, this is enough of an update; my bed beckons.
And yes, if you HAVE to know, I shaved before my presentation. I figured I didn't want to be mistaken for a homeless person in a suit.