Day 76: Basic event professionalism

Today’s inane images of the day:

I was greeted by this vibrant foliage on my way to the parking lot at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak.

I love wrapping/packing gifts… [woohoo for the upcoming holiday season!]. This was one of the speaker gifts for our Symposium.

Yesterday [Fri, 10/26] was our Symposium – here’s the front of the program.

The last couple of weeks have been filled with obsessing over every little detail for our Symposium. Yes, I admit that I am a semi-perfectionist and set some pretty high standards, but I also believe that if I’m going to commit to something that it better be done well. So it follows that I spent hours upon hours agonizing over confirming the speakers, combing through our flyer, poster and program and ensuring we had enough funding to make this event happen. Since things almost never work out the way you plan them, I anticipated that we would run into at least one issue and it ended up being with our speaker gifts [after emailing our supplier on Wednesday confirming the arrival of the gifts on Thursday, he notified me that he hadn’t heard whether they would arrive on-time… way to not let me know earlier…]. I frantically took care of this slight snag on Thursday evening. To my delight, nothing went too horribly wrong last night.

What bothered me most about last night was the final turnout – keep in mind that we required attendees to register in advance and I sent two reminder emails [with a line noting that the individual should notify me if they no longer plan on attending]. Yes, I recognize that it was a Friday evening. Yes, I recognize that most of our registered individuals are busy medical students. But seriously, don’t register for something then fail to attend.

Let me repeat that – don’t sign up for an event you don’t plan on attending.

We had 60 registered attendees but 16 didn’t show up – that’s a 27% no-show rate [I took out the individuals that notified me that they wouldn’t be attending ahead of time – thank you for letting me know]. I understand last minute emergencies [this one can maybe account for 2-3 people] and other things come up, but at least shoot me a quick email so that we don’t waste our resources expecting your arrival. We could have cut back on how many programs we printed and saved almost 3 sheets of printed name tags  We could have rearranged the room that the event was held in to make it feel more well-attended [we had 40ish people in a room designed for 150]. We could have saved money by ordering less food. Had we known that only ~40 people would attend, things would have been handled a bit differently.

This is one of my biggest pet-peeves. All of us at some point has planned/hosted an event and should therefore understand basic event etiquette. Moreover, these are medical students – you’d think there was a baseline level of professionalism to either 1) not sign up or 2) cancel a registration. In today’s digital age of smartphones, tablets and laptops, there’s no excuse for failing to send: “I won’t be attending.” Our four physician speakers took time out of their busy days to create and present talks. All but one of the physicians that registered to attend, showed up [the one that didn’t was on-call]. What does this say about our generation of medical students?

Am I overreacting? Yes. But do I have a valid point? I think so.

In other news… we’ve started our Reproductive unit, which means that I can no longer study in public without feeling really uncomfortable with the images of a pathologic penis or vagina on my laptop screen. Maybe I should invest in one of those privacy screens…