More fun than Disney? Being a blogger at the 2011 AER Conference

Dawnett Watkins was a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad at the 2011 Advancing Ethical Research Conference. In the post below, she reflects on her experience.

It’s the middle of winter (if you can call 70-degree temperatures winter!), but I can’t stop my mind from drifting to visions of next December and San Diego, where the 2012 Advancing Ethical Research (AER) Conference will be held. Why am I thinking about the conference now? Because I know that in just a couple of months, I will be receiving an email encouraging me to make my reservation at the conference hotel, and just like that I will be booking my room for next year’s conference (even if I don’t have approval to attend the conference yet)!

Why am I always so excited for PRIM&R’s annual conference? I always learn something new; after eight or nine years of attending, I have yet to repeat a session. There are always more sessions than I can possibly attend (outside of cloning myself, which I’m pretty sure is against the rules). In addition to having an opportunity to attend engaging workshops and plenary presentations, I have met so many interesting people and found answers to questions answered that I didn’t even know I was looking for.

Sure, there are times that I walk away completely overwhelmed, like the first year I attended and found out how incredibly important having written policies and procedures was. By the next year was patting myself on the back for having created and implemented written policies and procedures at my institution.

The 2011 AER Conference was by far the most fun I’ve had at conference. More fun than Disney? Well, okay, more fun DURING the conference than ever before. Why? Being a member of the PRIM&R Blog Squad was a lot of fun. The only negative aspect was having to wear a red PRIM&R Blog Squad shirt the whole week—my alma mater (Oklahoma State University) was scheduled to play their in-state rival, the University of Oklahoma, in what was to be one of the best football games ever (from an OSU fan’s perspective anyway). I was being asked to wear the color of the rival team all week! Never fear, I had a solution, I planned ahead and brought plenty of orange shirts to wear underneath the bright red. And, in the end, I didn’t get burned by the red, and I still had fun with the whole blogger thing. So, if you’re reading this and thinking maybe, just maybe you’ll apply for the blog squad this year— go for it! I never dreamed that I would be one of the lucky ones to be picked for the PRIM&R Blog Squad, and yet here you are reading my blog! Who says learning can’t be fun? See you in sunny San Diego!