Junior and senior poster facilitators foster talent

Madison Macht, MD

Madison Macht, MD

When Madison Macht, MD, attended the ATS International Conference in Denver last year, the second-year fellow in the Division of Pulmonary Sciences and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver, went with much anticipation.

It was his first experience as a Poster Discussion Session junior facilitator. Along with three senior facilitators, Dr. Macht helped guide the discussion during the “Case Reports of Interstitial Lung Disease.” His endeavor was doubly rewarding because Dr. Macht also presented his own posters in two other Poster Discussion Sessions. His research focuses on the peripheral and bulbar neuromuscular dysfunction that affects survivors of critical illness. His work showing the association between post-extubation dysphagia and poor patient outcomes earned a research award from the Critical Care Assembly.

“It was a great experience to learn the process of presenting one’s research at a large, international meeting, and to be surrounded by people whom I have admired as investigators and clinicians,” Dr. Macht said.

Introduced at last year’s conference, the junior-senior facilitator format will return this year with even more facilitator-led poster sessions.

David H. Au, MD, MS

David H. Au, MD, MS

“This is an opportunity for those presenting to get more input from people who are recognized in their fields,” said International Conference Committee Chair David Au, MD, MS, associate professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle.

ATS relies on the development of young academic professionals to sustain itself over time, he said.

“Part of that is through mentoring, such as with junior faculty leading discussions about topics within their expertise. That is valuable over time. The best way to accomplish that is to pair them with national experts and allow them to refine their skills with the guidance of these experts,” said Dr. Au, who is acting director of the Northwest Health Services Research and Development Center of Excellence.

Dr. Macht is encouraged by the efforts of ATS to develop a pool of promising talent.

“Young students, residents and fellows are excited about our field and the research opportunities it provides,” he said. “One of the best ways to facilitate that is to have them be involved in the exciting cases that are presented at the International Conference.”

Dr. Macht said he felt fortunate to present his research within a small group of scientists, and to hear encouragement from expert facilitators.

“There was a good dialogue between investigators from all over the world who talked about my specific research,” Dr. Macht said. “That showed me how interested many people are in my research, and it allowed us all to exchange our ideas.”

Now a third-year fellow, Dr. Macht said the lessons he learned at last year’s conference gave him the encouragement to pursue his additional research in post-extubation dysphagia.

“I realized that a lot of people in our field are interested in my research, and they think post-extubation dysphagia is an important topic. That makes me even more excited to continue my research,” he said.

This year, Dr. Macht will present two additional posters in thematic poster sessions, where junior and senior facilitators will likely spur him to further his investigations even more.