This follows on from my previous post, reflecting on the COSA ASM.
Now, I haven't been to heaps of conferences. But of those I have attended, I've noticed a marked difference between the ones that are multidisciplinary compared to the pharmacy ones. The main difference is the focus on the patients, not the profession. Cancer does this really well, and so does primary care. Consumer focus can be seen throughout. They are even involved as conference participants. It changes the dynamic considerably, and I believe it is for the better.
Pharmacy conferences are a great opportunity to catch up with colleagues, but I don't find the learning as valuable as multidisciplinary meetings. Maybe because the audience is easier - more homogeneous. There's expectation that the audience will be encouraging and less of a need to defend assertions as when other types of professionals are in the room. I don't think this is unique to pharmacy, I'm sure it's the same with other disciplines. The result is that single profession conferences have a tendency to become a mutual gratification society. An echo echo chamber of positivity and professional tribalism. It's not that this is a bad thing per se, I understand that there is a need for it. I might even be willing to pay for this every now and then. The trouble for me is the cost.
The cost is both financial and opportunity cost. I know there are some people who do the conference circuits throughout the year, traveling here there and everywhere, but I couldn't do that even if I wanted to. And I'm sure that I'm not the only one. So I have to be selective. Sometimes my selection will be based upon location. I mean, not solely on location, I'm not about to go to the real estate conference just because it's at the convention centre. But at the moment, conferences in Adelaide are pretty appealing as childcare is taken care of and I don't have to pay for travel and accommodation. This might sound an awfully unromantic method for choosing, but it's the reality. Even if I could afford it financially I couldn't manage an international conference at the moment.
What perplexes me though, annoys me even, is that pharmacy conferences always seem to be more expensive than the multidisciplinary meetings. This doesn't make sense to me. I mean, I would get it if they refused to accept drug company sponsorship and were fully self funded, but as far as I'm aware this isn't the case. I think this is a problem. To ignore it risks significant leakage of people to more affordable multidisciplinary meetings.