I am off this weekend to one of my favorite events of the year, which is the AMIA Annual Symposium. I have attended the Annual Symposium, called by different names over the years, every year since I first entered the biomedical and health informatics field in 1986.That makes this year's AMIA 2011 meeting the 26th consecutive year of attendance for me.
The AMIA meeting serves many purposes for me. First and foremost, of course, is that I get informed and updated on the latest advances in the informatics field. But the value is not limited to the science. Featured speakers and panels give updates on policy and other key happenings. Social and other events allow networking and catching up with old colleagues and friends and making new ones. It is also one of the most exhausting meetings I attend, as all the sessions and other activities keep me busy each day from early morning until late at night.
An organization like AMIA drives home to me how important one's professional organization is in a scientific or professional discipline. Not only do I count my closest colleagues in AMIA, but also many of my best friends. Another critical asset of AMIA is its staff, which is not only incredibly competent, but whom I also include among my most important colleagues and friends. AMIA also gives the support and collaboration for initiatives such as the 10x10 ("ten by ten") program, which former AMIA President Don Detmer has called one of the organization's most successful programs ever.
AMIA is really like a family to me. My colleagues and friends are always there for me, and I was tickled to learn recently that I am the singular person to have attended every AMIA meeting in the 21st century.
Next year's AMIA Annual Symposium will be even more special for me. In my 27th consecutive symposium attended, I will be serving as Scientific Program Committee Chair. This is a great honor but also one that carries significant responsibility. Not only must the program reflect the highest quality scientific presentations, but must also include other events that capture the larger perspective of the field and the role it is playing in improving individual health, healthcare, public health, and biomedical research.
The meeting next year will be made more special by its location in Chicago. While not the first time it has been in the Windy City, it will be special to have the conference I am chairing take place in my home town. Even though I know longer live in Chicago, it is where I grew up and did all of my education and medical training. I am hopeful that some of my family will also be able to attend some of the meeting. I hope everyone else reading this will also consider sharing in the fun as well.