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July 4, 2012

Usefulness of Medical Conferences

Author Affiliations

Letters Section Editor: Jody W. Zylke, MD, Senior Editor.

Author Affiliations: Brighton and Sussex Medical School, Brighton, United Kingdom (

JAMA. 2012;308(1):31-33. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.6368

To the Editor: The Viewpoint on the usefulness of medical conferences1 made an important point about the absence of transparency and thorough peer review of research presented at many conferences. However, medical conferences allow research efforts to be highlighted and shared with others and as such are important for the career progression of medical students and junior physicians. Medical students in the United Kingdom are encouraged to submit their work for presentation at conferences; presenting work either orally or as a poster is rewarded with points in the application process for foundation (intern) posts. This gives candidates a greater chance of securing their first-choice position and as such is valuable. While the peer review process for many conferences is less stringent than for high-impact-factor journals, conferences do allow students the opportunity to gain a foothold in medical research that might not otherwise be open to them. Furthermore, many conference attendees will make contacts that they would not be able to make through other means such as social networking. Such contacts are likely to be beneficial in the course of their future careers. As such, conference attendance is useful and should be encouraged, particularly for students and junior physicians.

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