If this is your first Clinical Laboratory Educators Conference (CLEC), you probably have several of questions about what to expect and how to maximize your time in Baltimore. We are very grateful to our experienced CLEC attendees who volunteered these helpful tips to ensure you have a great first experience.

Thanks to Angela Baxter, MLS program director at Emory University Hospital Midtown; Marianne Downes, assistant professor at West Virginia University; Candice Grayson, program director at Community College of Baltimore County; DeAnne Maxwell, CLS program director at Franciscan Health Indianapolis; and Pat Tille, associate professor at University of Cincinnati, for their thoughtful advice.

Before CLEC, Phan Ahead

  1. app 2View the handouts (or download/print) that accompany sessions you plan to attend so you can already form questions you'd like to have answered. Or you may decide to attend a different session during that time slot.

  2. Download the ASCLS Events app before coming to the conference hotel and start creating your personal schedule. The app can be found on Google Play and on the Apple App Store. The app allows you to view session descriptions and handouts, reference maps of the hotel, and get alerts about important meeting news. You can also connect with fellow CLEC attendees by sending messages to other app users, uploading photos to the timeline, and more.

  3. Check out the list of exhibitors, and plan to seek out answers to important questions from particular vendors (set a goal of one or two questions to answer while at CLEC). For instance: 

    Looking for lab supply discounts? Plan to look for the vendors who supply those items and get contact info. 
    Looking for a new Urinalysis textbook? Plan to visit all the publisher tables and ask what they have available for UA.

  4. Bring a supply of business cards, or ensure you have a quick means of giving your contact information to others. Your name badge can be a handy place to keep extra business cards.

  5. Plan to ship items home, if you are travelling by air, so you don't have to worry about transporting larger souvenirs, posters, or textbooks back home. There is a Business Center located within the CLEC Headquarters Hotel that is a convenient option.

  6. Do your site-seeing before or after the conference, if you can swing an extra day before or after CLEC. The Host Committee has suggestions for you

    BTW: The National Aquarium requires planning your admission time because they stagger groups entering the aquarium.

  7. Take advantage of the Thursday and Friday evening receptions to connect and network. This way you can maximize your "networking" time during the conference and still have time to accomplish your goals.

During CLEC, Connect

  1. NetworkingTake advantage of every opportunity to meet others and network! This is especially important if you are relatively new to teaching. Attend as many sessions as possible and engage in conversations with individuals on either side of you. This is by far the most popular piece of advice!

    “I came to my first CLEC alone (I was not with a program yet) and I made some very important connections with people. When traveling with a group, it is too easy to become inclusive, but when traveling alone, you are nearly forced (if you don't get out your phone), to talk to others ... connecting with other educators, and educators from programs that are different than mine is a major value of the program and therefore worth the effort to do the pre-post work necessary so that you can get the most out of the meeting.”

    “Two years ago, I was a first-time attendee to CLEC. Although I was nervous and didn't know anyone; I quickly became comfortable and engaged with fellow laboratorians.”

    “My best suggestion is to not be afraid to ask questions and interact with others. Whether or not you know someone, we are there to help each other. CLEC is a think tank! Many of us openly share resources to help each other!”

    “If you are coming with a group that you already know, try to push yourselves to separate and meet and hang with others. You can always meet back up with your original group to share, but sitting together and moving together as a group doesn't allow you to interact and meet those new people. Try to sit in a different spot each time you walk into one of the rooms and sit with someone new in each session.”

    “I have made lifelong friends at CLEC—people who have identical programs in structure to mine that I still use as a resource all the time.”

    “[CLEC has] wonderful speakers, but I have also learned so much from talking to the person next to me or the person at my lunch table, etc.”

  2. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing; the dress code is business casual. Currently the weather forecast calls for a chance of rain and high temperatures in the 40s, so be sure to pack an umbrella and warm outerwear.

  3. Write notes when gathering contact info from others about why that contact is important; write on the back of their business card or keep a supply of small post-it notes to jot down contact info and important details, e.g. request desk copy of textbook, contact for example case studies, or build connection for program cooperation.

  4. Bring a notebook containing session documents, such as handouts, to take notes on. CLEC is an exciting time to network, learn, and validate that you are where you need and want to be.

After CLEC, Keep Connecting

Set aside a day to organize and follow up on all your contacts; send emails to those you connected with and catalog your meeting notes.

“Most importantly, remember that it is not just an event that you attend and forget. It is an ongoing event. You will want to follow-up with people after and then year after year.”