Sunday, February 11, 2007

Thoughts on a Week in D.C.

Feb 2-6, 2007 were the dates of the 65th Annual American Academy of Dermatology Conference. 7000 dermatologists from the U.S. (and some from abroad) converged on Washington D.C. for this week long event.

It was great fun, and an interesting glimpse into human nature. During the working hours, there are many different courses and workshops that one can sign up for. I have to say - overall I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the lecturers, and it was a pleasure to (once again) not have any clinical responsibilities and be able to just focus on learning.

The nights were pretty outrageous. Each night had at least two or more happening events, mostly sponsored by drug companies. There were private dinners at fancy restaurants, nightclubs were rented out for the night, and multiple galas where entire museums were rented for the night with live entertainment and free-flowing alcohol. Suffice to say, there were many a person who, if they did make it to the early morning class the next day, spent the morning double-fisting water and coffee.

It was a wonderful opportunity to see colleagues who are scattered across the U.S. Some we had known from before, some we met during the interview trail, and some were a few years older who are now in their own practices. Dermatologists with similar interests got together over lunch or dinner - Pediatric dermatology, Medical Dermatology Society, Dermatologic Surgery, International/Travel dermatology, etc. Program reunions took place, and practicing dermatologists had the opportunity to catch up with the faculty who had trained them.

And then, THE EXPO. Words cannot do justice to the experience that is the exhibition hall. Think big. Think free stuff. Think World Candy expo as seen on Food Network (or in person, if you've been so fortunate), except chock full of creams and lotions and fancy new lasers. You pick up a free rolling carry-on suitcase (provided by the drug company du jour), which you need to carry all the free products each booth shoves at you. If you stand back, you'll get the show of a lifetime - grown adults (including otherwise oh so distinguished attendings, and many of their significant others) salivating over a bottle of skin cream (that they could easily afford). It really shows you that all people, not just starving students and residents, eat up the free stuff. Must be what Sundance Film Festival goodies , or Oscar gift bags are like...

It's not just drug companies who are there. Clinique was there. (Lancome was there last year). Dove. Neutrogena. Oil of Olay. L'oreal. Companies that you would NOT have expected, (or maybe I'm just the naive one) there to try to tell you about their latest and greatest, with the hopes that you will recommend their products to your patients. I guess it makes some sort of sense. Although, frankly, I really haven't had that many patients ask about what kind of makeup or face mask to use. Sunscreen, yes. Moisturizer, yes. Perhaps people in private practice get more of the "how can I be more beautiful" questions.

And another thing - there are WAY too many companies preying on people's wish to look younger. Can there be more anti-wrinkle creams? All of which work (or don't work, depending on your perspective) about the same? Or "anti-aging" serums that promise to turn back the years? The sales people stand there and spout "research studies" on their products, with "reduction in fine lines by 58%," which is sketchy. How is the average joe supposed to sift through all the pseudo-medical jargon they throw at you to sell their product?

Anyways, it was an educational (and eye-opening!), exhausting, but fun week in our nation's capitol. If you get a chance, you should check it out! :)

photo credit,

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