March 19, 2019

My Conference Experience: Behind the Scenes with Lauren Wojnarowski

Lauren Wojnarowski, MA is the ACGME's Associate Director, Educational Projects, working in the Education Department's Educational Activities team. She is one of the planners of the Annual Educational Conference, and her team's role is to handle collection of educational content and logistics (besides AV) to produce the conference each year. We asked her to share some more about her role and what the conference experience is like for her behind the scenes.

Q: How long have you been with the ACGME and involved with the Annual Educational Conference?

A: I’ve been with the ACGME close to 5 years, my first conference was in San Diego in 2015. When I first started as an administrator I had never been to a conference of this size and I was just blown away by the level of detail and commitment of the planning team.

Q: When do you begin preparing for the Annual Educational Conference?

A: We begin preparing as soon as we get back to Chicago! The process is year-round. Once we get back we make sure to review all the evaluations carefully so that we know how we can improve next year’s conference. We just sent out the call for topics and the call for sessions is right around the corner.

Q: What’s the hardest part of your job?

A: I’m a planner by nature, and the hardest part for me in conference planning is no matter how far ahead you plan, you really need to be as flexible as you can, because things always change last minute. It certainly keeps things interesting!

Q: What’s the best and most rewarding part of your job?

A: The best part of my job is being able to see how this conference positively impacts the GME community and brings people together. The attendees are so kind and gracious and eager to learn and bring back something innovative to their home institution. It’s a pleasure to interact with them and hear their stories and feedback.

Q: What’s an average day like for you when you are finally at the conference?

A: Each day is very different and action packed! I’m often meeting with staff and my consultants to trouble-shoot issues, greeting speakers, moderating sessions, checking setups, connecting with vendors, and making sure we are appropriately staffed. We have a really great team that works very hard to keep the conference running, each with their own special role. Every member of the ACGME staff contributes in various ways.

Q: Is there anything you already know you would like to add or change for next year?

A: We have been at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, Florida the last three years, and next year will already be very different because we will be in San Diego, California for the first time since 2015. The conference will also be held at two different properties. There’s lots of room for innovation and change when we move to a new city. One of the comments we keep getting is to have more posters! That is likely something we will add next year.

Q: So what do you do after a conference is over?

A: There certainly is a sense of relief, but conference wrap-up is usually a two-month process. Normally I go on vacation out of the country to unplug, but since my Director is retiring this month I decided to put that off until May (when I will be going to Paris and Slovenia)!