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Innovation and Research

Teaching, Learning and Networking: The Power of Attending a Medical Conference 

Every year, Gillette's physicians, researchers, advanced practice providers, nurses, provider relations liaisons and more attend medical conferences, such the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America (POSNA) and the American Academy for Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine (AACPDM). It’s a chance to present new clinical findings, share research studies, create and enhance collaborations with other institutions, network and learn from other pediatric experts.

We chatted with three Gillette professionals about what happens at medical conferences and asked for their take on why they are a vital part of enhancing care for Gillette patients. 

Jennifer Laine, MD at POSNA

Jennifer Laine, MD, orthopedic surgeon and Medical Director of Research 

What happens at a typical medical conference? Who attends? 

There is a broad representation of people at medical conferences. You have providers from multiple disciplines, researchers and research staff, folks from industry to help inform us on the latest medical technology. You’ll see new research presentations, updates in the field of care – even healthy debates on treatments. In some meetings, such as POSNA, people come from all over the world. My colleagues and I in the orthopedic field want to teach, learn and collaborate to advance pediatric care. It’s all for the benefit of our patients in the end.  

I often leave conferences energized and enthused about improving care at Gillette. We come home with new answers and sometimes with new questions, but that’s what we need to advance care and understanding for our patients. 

Why is it important for a children’s hospital such as Gillette to attend? 

POSNA, for example, is very relevant to our field and what we do day-to-day for the patients and families we serve. Most conferences emphasize education, health, patient safety and research. Getting together as a group is an excellent way for us to share the latest updates in research and educate each other on our care experience and techniques. We also want to collaborate on clinical and research ideas. Conferences are a great way for experts in the field to engage and get involved with others in the field. For example, I am part of an international group of collaborators who study Perthes. At meetings such as POSNA, we are able to get together in person and collaborate.  

There is an element also of collaborating with others outside of clinical care. We talk about leadership and development, for example. We are trying to figure out how to do better research and collaborate in better ways all the time. 

What is the value in sharing Gillette advancements in care with others who work in pediatric care? Is learning and collaborating with others just as important? 

Gillette providers have a lot to share based on their own expertise, but we still have a lot to learn from others. When we learn from others, it helps us deliver better care. We are always aiming to learn and improve. You can always be better. It’s not like a professional athlete ever says, “I’m good enough now.” They want to continuously improve. We can teach, but we also need to learn. How do we give a patient better value? Our overall goal is better health and care for children – even if it's not at Gillette. We want to elevate the level of care across the board.  

Susan Novotney Ph.D at POSNA

Susan Novotny, Ph.D, clinical scientist 

What role do research studies play at medical conferences? 

They are the backbone of many medical conferences. Medical conferences bring together a large swath of perspectives and mindsets – often from around the globe. Providers, scientists, advanced practice providers, researchers and more are always looking to discuss and challenge the future of pediatric care. Research is vital for the advancement of our practice. That’s why we share our research findings at medical conferences like POSNA. We hope to inform others about the research we are conducting at Gillette. We’re also looking to learn from the experts at other institutions who are discovering new innovations in care. 

How does the presentation process of research studies typically play out?  

Presentations give us the chance to spark discussion. During presentations we can share what we are doing at Gillette with a large audience and simultaneously see what others are doing in terms of advancing pediatric care. Research presentations often initiate a conversation among like-minded peers, which is exactly what they are designed to do. It’s always great to see our experts learn from an innovative study that eventually leads to future collaboration with other researchers. The goal is to learn and share knowledge. 

Are medical institutions open to partnering with each other on research? 

Yes! Conferences are an opportunity to establish new or strengthen existing partnerships to continue advancing knowledge in the field of healthcare. We are always seeking out collaborations to enhance care for our patients. We partner on research studies quite often. In fact, much of our research portfolio is collaborative with other institutions, especially for rare diseases. We have many multi-center research studies with partners across the nation and globe. Findings are often published in medical journals or shared at medical conferences. It’s important for Gillette to partner with others so we can get the best data and the best minds working together to solve a problem.  

Do surgeons, physicians, researchers and advanced practice providers take findings from medical conferences back to the respective institutions and/or practices? 

We are exposed to the expertise of others at medical conferences, and we want to learn how they treat conditions we treat at Gillette. Sometimes we can translate those findings to help care for our patients. We’re fantastic at what we do, but there is always room to improve some aspects of care – whether it’s diagnosis, surgery, treatment or more informed decisions for our families. 

Reyna Staats, Provider relations liaison

Reyna Staats, provider relations liaison 

What does a provider relations liaison do?  

We work with external providers, clinics and organizations to promote Gillette and inform them about what we have to offer to the community and families who have complex medical needs. What you’re really trying to do is partner with providers such as doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners to let them know how we can help their families so their kids can get the care that they need. 

How is that skill set applicable at a medical conference? 

When we come to conferences, we see providers that we work with – both from Gillette and outside of our walls. It’s a great way for providers to get to know us and gain trust with them. After you talk to a doctor, they aren’t just automatically going to send you a patient. They need to be comfortable with you to make sure that if they send a patient to your hospital, they are going to get excellent care. If they have questions, we answer them or update them if they are wondering about any new care or updates in the Gillette community. It’s really about letting people know that Gillette is here as a resource.  

Do you do lots of networking with other providers? 

Doctors like to connect with experts at Gillette. For example, I talked to a doctor in Mexico who wanted to start a Gait Lab, so I connected her with Dr. (Tom) Novacheck so she could get the intel she needed to get started. I met a doctor from Chile and he wanted information about our Gait lab and to connect some of his fellows and residents to Gillette. I am Mexican and speak Spanish, so I asked him if he could speak Spanish. He said, “of course!” He gave me a hug and kiss right away because that is how we greet people in Latin American culture. When you speak someone’s language you instantly connect with them. There is a sense of security. They trust you right away.  

You have a table set up at POSNA and other conferences. What role does that play in helping others connect with Gillette Children’s? 

Having the physical presence helps get our name out there so people stop by and ask about us (no, we’re not a company that sells razors). It gives us an open opportunity to talk about the great work we are doing if they haven’t heard about us. For example, we have signage for the Cerebral Palsy Institute, people ask about it and it gives us an opportunity to teach them about it. We have handouts such as our cerebral palsy treatment roadmap at conferences. Providers appreciate it, because it’s a tool they can use to help guide their families and patients. We hand out other items that are useful to providers such as information about what sets us about apart from others, the Gillette Healthcare Press and swag so people know and remember us when they need a resource.