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If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough of these exciting meetings with high concentrations of hospice and palliative care researchers: theNational Palliative Care Research Center’sAnnual Foley Retreat, thePalliative Care Research CooperativeGroup meetings, theBeeson meeting, and more.  All of these meetings have high concentrations of engaged palliative care researchers.

Similarly, the annual palliative care assembly sponsored by AAHPM and HPNA has a considerable amount of research programming.

So, you might ask, why would one attend the brand-new-first-ever-of-it’s-kind State of the Science in Hospice and Palliative Care Meeting? This new meeting, which will overlap with the end of the annual assembly and continue through Sunday in San Diego (March 20-22).

How is this meeting different from the regular assembly meeting?  I put the question to the meeting’s co-chair Nick Dionne-Odom, who replied:

The Annual Assembly Meeting has primarily centered on clinicians and the clinical implications of research. While dissemination of the latest science is shared in common between the two meetings, the State of the Science will focus less on clinical implications of the research and more on future research directions and the research designs, methods, and analytic approaches used to address gaps in our evidence-base. Moreover, one of the primary objectives of the State of the Science meeting is to foster discussion and networking among researchers to promote career development and interdisciplinary collaboration.

The new State of the Sciencemeeting features some exciting innovations beyond what’s possible in the Annual Assembly.  Social events with the whose who of palliative care research will provide junior researchers face time with palliative care superstars.  A novel “rapid” poster session will allow selected presenters to entice attendees to their poster with a slide and brief presentation to a wider audience.

But let’s be serious, we can’t all attend EVERY meeting.  These meetings require time away from family, work, or other obligations.  They have separate financial costs for registration, lodging, and food that can add up.

So if someone had to choose between attending the Annual Assembly and the State of the Science meeting, which should they choose?  I put this question to the other State of the Science co-chair Abby Rosenberg, who replied:

Well, we hope folks will go to both because each is terrific and they will complement each other.  For those who can only attend one, however, SOTS is ideal for researchers, or people who are primarily interested in palliative care research.  In other words, it is a meeting for scientists by scientists.  Our goal is to build our community of scholars and learn together how we can continue to advance the evidence-base for hospice and palliative care. 

My final bit of investigation involved asking my mentees to give their TRUE reasons for attending the State of the Science meeting.  Here is what they said:

State of the Science allows me to provide my poster with not only additional days beyond the Assembly meeting, but also substantially improved overall quality of life in its poster lifetime. 

-A loving poster caregiver   

Because looking at research posters about death and dying is my idea of fun.  

-Born This Way  

The non-clinical PhD researchers have planned a concurrent support group meeting…at a bar. 

-Misunderstood non-clinician

My mentor paid my registration fees. 

-Mentee of palliative care A-lister  

Because I want to wade into the waters of palliative care and help rock the boat. 

-Metaphor mixer  

To hobnob with the A-listers in palliative care research. 

-Shameless palliative care social climber   

Where else will people appreciate my nerdy black humor? Of corpse I will attend! 

-Punny fellow 

Because I heard Seaworld is closed that day. 

-Stymied tourist  

Ok, so now that you’ve heard the truth, what will you do? Feel free to respond in the comments!

by: Alex Smith @AlexSmithMD

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