I traveled to Chicago to present research at the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2014 annual concert in October. However, I did far more than present while I was there. The first night I was there I had the opportunity to go to an opening gala reception where I met several physicians who do both clinical work and work in the human factors field. Each of the four days after the first I had the opportunity to go to several presentations on a variety of subjects from interruptions in health care to flight simulation. While I mostly went to presentations that were in the field of health care, I gained valuable experience from going to those that presented outside of my field as I could see similar research methods utilized in completely different areas of research. On Wednesday I was fortunate enough to go on a tour of Northwestern University’s Physical Therapy and Human Movement Sciences Department. This tour was a fascinating experience and depicted research done in a physical therapy lab and various machines used to re-train muscles. On Thursday I finally presented my poster and was pleased with how much traffic I received and the way that I handled questions. I met several other people in the health care field that knowing could potentially help me in the future. Friday morning I headed out of Chicago to come back to Columbus.
Other than the conference itself, I also had the pleasure of exploring the city of Chicago in the evenings. On two nights I went to see improvisational comedy, a performing art that the city is known for. Improv is a hobby of mine and it was a great experience seeing it at its best. Overall it was a week of great learning experiences.
My STEP experience was an eye opening experience. It was a great opportunity to break out of my shell as I have struggled to meet professionals in the past. But the HFES conference made it easy and I was able to meet several physicians. I now have more confidence in my networking skills. Additionally, I expected to be over prepared for my poster presentation on Thursday. I have a history of public speaking and performing and thought this would be no different. And while I feel that it went well, it was not as easy as I expected. It was difficult being questioned on the material I was presenting and it required a different skill set that I expected. In the future I will be able to prepare for presentations with potential questions to be asked in mind. This will help me become a better research presenter. I learned that though I have the potential to be a good presenter, I need to make myself do the work. I have a tendency to leave things until the last minute, but STEP has helped me realize it is worth putting in preparation early.
I am very grateful for my participation in the STEP program for several reasons, but two come to the forefront of my mind. One, the process of writing a proposal and attempting to make it competitive and representative of my intentions. I liked this a lot because most people, especially in academia, will write many proposals going forward whether it be for scholarships, grants, or graduate school. Secondly, connecting with a faculty member was immensely helpful. The STEP program makes it very easy to talk with a faculty member one on one and form a relationship that might otherwise be difficult to form. Additionally, it introduces faculty members to students that they might otherwise never have come in contact with. For example, Dr. Inpanbutr teaches in the veterinary school. Chances are, our paths would not have crossed in my time at OSU, and she has been incredibly helpful to me both in the STEP program and out of it.
My STEP experience was helpful for several reasons. It was my first time presenting any research at a conference. I found that I enjoy it quite a bit and would like to continue to research even as I move forward into medical school. Additionally, at the conference I attended I met several established physicians. I hope that they will be able to help me along the way and that I have made lifelong contacts. Finally, my STEP experience served to solidify my interest in human factors research. The field is so important in every area of life. There is always a desire to make things work more efficiently and better for people. I hope to continue to use these critical thinking skills to continue improving anything I take part in moving forward.