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An intern’s guide to the ACHSM national congress (By Annie Makar)

By Annie Makar 

2nd Year Management Intern

In September 2022, the Victorian Health Management Interns embarked on a journey to the west for the first face-to-face ACHSM Asia-Pacific health leadership congress in three years. The ACHSM congress is the premier event in the region to bring together leaders in health service delivery.

As an intern, the congress provides an incredible opportunity to sharpen our skills, learn in new spaces, build on the practical experience gained in our placement, and translate these into various sectors in healthcare. This four-step guide was developed upon reflecting on my first face-to-face ACHSM congress, with the intent to guide future interns to a successful and rich experience at the congress.

  1. Plan ahead

Planning for a conference is more than just coordinating flights and booking accommodations. Planning for a successful experience at a conference involves prioritising concurrent sessions in which you will find the most value. Then, when the program is released, be sure to sift through the sessions and plan to attend the ones that could lead to furthering your knowledge or an area that you haven’t been exposed to before and could potentially lead to some theoretical understanding of a new area of interest.

  1. Networking, networking, networking

Whether you like it or not, extensive published research indicates professional networks encourage broader and more profound knowledge of the industry you work in, lead to more job opportunities, encourage innovation and a chance to improve your status.

At the ACHSM conference, there will be so many incredible in the room. Be confident and introduce yourself to leaders in the healthcare field you wouldn’t usually have access to. Although sometimes intimidating, be sure to position yourself well, be authentic and get your elevator pitch ready.

You can use your authentic elevator pitch in this setting to introduce yourself and break the ice! Your elevator pitch should cover who you are (name and role), where you are currently situated (company) and what you have found interesting at the conference.

You never know who you will meet!

  1. Showcase your work

At these types of conferences, there will be ample opportunity to showcase the work you have done thus far in the internship. Whether this is an innovative project you were involved in during a placement or an assignment you wrote during your Master’s degree – the conference is an excellent opportunity to put together a poster or develop a presentation to showcase your talent and experience.

The benefits of showcasing your work allow you to communicate your talent or research to a broad and interested audience, get feedback, further develop your work, and broaden your professional network.

You never know the innovation that you could inspire in the audience!

  1. Take some time to rest and reflect

A good conference forces you to grow and challenge yourself but can also be very tiring. Between the full day of seminars, asking questions, presenting a poster, networking and the fun social events each night – conferences can be exhausting. So make sure to put some time aside to rest and recuperate. Particularly as you head into another week of placement. Your health and well-being come first.

Once you’ve rested, it is a great idea to reflect on what you learned at the conference. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What key learnings did I take away from the conference?
  • Are there any new areas that I want to explore further?
  • Who did I connect with, and how can I continue to build on that connection?
  • Are there any fresh ideas I can bring back to the organisation I work for?

These will help you to frame your ongoing reflections and better understand the transferability and relatability to your own teachings. 

Being a Health Management Intern allows you to open your eyes to a new world of learning, teachings and innovation. Undoubtedly, the experience at the ACHSM congress will continue to assist me in effectively managing future change, development, and innovation in the healthcare industry – essential for a career in health management. Furthermore, it solidified my passion for this industry and encouraged me to develop further as an emerging healthcare leader.