I’m glad to say it’s been a quiet today. To the best of my knowledge no one in my family has died.

Something I’ve been wanting to mention lately but haven’t gotten around to (I hope you’ll forgive my distraction) is the upcoming American College of Rheumatology Annual Scientific Conference which starts this week.

This is a now a classic event for American (and many international) rheumatologists. It is a very large gathering (last year there were something like 12,000 people there). We get together to learn, pass on the newest scientific advances, discuss, debate, see old friends, and generally have a good time doing rheum together.

The conference proper starts this Sunday, but on I’m on my way to Washington, DC tomorrow for the first of two preconference workshops, the first of which is on Friday. This is the Clinical Research Conference, where a bunch of like-minded clinical researchers like me will get together and discuss lots of research issues. Last year it was a blast.

On Saturday is the Board Review Course. This is a day-long session that will try to cover most things rheumatologic in a very short period of time for the benefit of those of us who have to take the rheumatology board exam this year. I am, of course, taking it for the first time, but many others have to take the recertification exam. I hope I may admit to being very nervous about this; I have had a lot of distractions lately (see last few posts) and really have not studied at all. Now some people say that I shouldn’t really need to study anyway since this is supposed to be a test of the clinical knowledge that I, hopefully, already have, but I’m still a little worried. I’ll have to try to find a little time to study at least a little of the more obscure areas sometime within the next 2 weeks.

Sunday, the conference gets started in earnest. I wish I could show you all the things that will be going on for these 4 days – in fact I think I will! Check out this schedule: ACR Schedule. Keep in mind that this is only the sessions that they think are most of interest for fellows; there’s more going on! This lists none of the abstract sessions. Anyway, there are numerous events going on at any given time and you really have to pick and chose what you want to go to. I’ll be trying to hit things that are most relevant to clinical research, my particular areas of expertise (which are epidemiology and maybe osteonecrosis if I get the grant I applied for), and maybe a few events for clinicians as well. I’ll also hit the big plenary sessions which are supposed to present the really big headline rheumatology research news.

My talk is on Sunday in one of the concurrent abstract sessions. I am extraordinarioly nervous about this. My presentation is really only coming together now, and I really don’t like talking to big groups! But I’ll get through it. After that, I will be able to kick back and really enjoy Monday through Wednesday.

Now, I can hear a few of you wondering, ‘Carpus, didn’t you just tell us your mom died a few days ago? How can you be going to a big conference?’ I’ll tell you how. I can go to this conference because it’s the culmination of most of what I’ve been doing for the last year, and I know my mom and she would not want to miss it. The service is not going to be until next week, and the rest of my family is taking care of my dad and other matters. I’m lucky that my family is so large and so supportive of me – they have encouraged me to not rush up, to do what I think is important, and to feel good about the decision. And they are available to take care of necessary business. So I’m off to the conference tomorrow. I’ll go to my mom’s memorial next week, and my uncle’s the following week, and somewhere in there I’ll write my boards.

Anyway, the whole point of this post was to tell you that I hope to do a little blogging about the conference. I hope that I can at least get in a few short posts about some of the big sessions that could be of general interest. I was hoping to con a few colleagues into helping me out, but that looks like a no-go, so you’ll just have to rely on me.

I’ll be in touch!