Cancer Communication Research Center

CRN-Cancer Communication Research Center Meeting 2013: Reflecting on Days Spent in La Jolla


As a researcher, I attend a number of out of state professional meetings.  They typically occur in hotel conference rooms or offices, with fluorescent lighting and limited views of the outdoors.  On occasion, the meetings take place in beautiful cities or settings.  Without fail, I look forward to those meetings and build up my expectations.  But when I arrive, I realize that there is no time set aside to explore and enjoy, or that I over-commit, continuing to work alone or with colleagues after the scheduled sessions end.   When I do venture out (skipping some sessions), guilt quickly creeps in. 

Last week, the CRN-CCRC meeting took place at a beach resort in La Jolla, California.  Our conference room was just feet away from the beach giving us a clear view of the ocean.  As we sat around the table sipping our coffee discussing our daily agenda, we got a glance of the surfers on their boards, dolphins emerging out of the water, birds flying by and children playing on the sand.  Our meeting room was stocked with fresh fruit and mostly healthy snacks.  We met daily for 5 hours, having a clear expectation for productivity.  Interestingly, the surroundings did not detract or tempt us.  We engaged in deep dialogue, outlined our goals and the planned steps.  The sessions concluded after lunch, and we were permitted to use the afternoon as we desired.   I admit that one afternoon I had a pre-scheduled conference call.   But, rather than sitting in a fluorescent lit room, I propped myself up on a lounge chair, with a laptop, on the porch outside of my hotel room overlooking the ocean.  What a treat that was!  On other afternoons, I exercised, walked on the sand, explored La Jolla, and just relaxed.   The research team met again in the evenings on the beach, this time engaging in fireside conversations while toasting marshmallows.

So, why am I writing about this? This meeting left an impression and made me think about how we, as researchers, may achieve productivityandquality of life.  Much focus has been placed lately on patient-centered care, and that is in fact the driving force for our own work in the CRN-CCRC.   I am not suggesting that professional meetings should all take place at beach resorts.   But, we can encourage a more researcher-centered approach to such meetings.  In this stressful, financially insecure time for research, we need to aim for productivity yet find ways to nurture our well-being.  

Larissa Nekhlyudov, MD, MPH
Harvard Medical School/Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates

Written by CCRC at 11:08




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