Jennifer Li, BSc, CCRP, SOCRA Board President
Quality Manager, Cancer Clinical Research Unit
Princess Margaret Cancer Centre / University Health Network
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
SOCRA’s Annual Conference has been successfully carried out virtually for the past three years. Each event was carefully curated to deliver personal experiences through interactive sessions and virtual meeting spaces for attendees to connect. Despite our best efforts, physical gatherings have a unique energy that virtual platforms can only partially capture. “There’s a powerful dynamic in face-to-face interactions,” said SOCRA Board President, Jenn Li. “It’s in the spontaneous, organic exchanges in hallways and during coffee breaks where some of the most inspiring ideas are born.” And with this in mind, we are delighted that the SOCRA 32nd Annual Conference will be in person this year!
As we prepare to convene in Montreal, QC, Canada, from September 29 to October 1, 2023, we caught up with Jenn to uncover some of the compelling reasons that make this year’s event a must-go for clinical research professionals. Join us as we delve into the top eleven reasons to attend – and stick around for Jenn’s favorite tips for optimizing your conference experience.
Reasons to Attend This Year’s 2023 Annual Conference
Follow along as we explore the following eleven reasons to be inspired to attend this year’s Annual Conference:
- It’s in person(!)
As a long-standing SOCRA member, Jenn is thrilled to reunite with colleagues and meet new faces after three years, and her excitement is palpable. “The buzz around the upcoming SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference is unmistakable. The return to an in-person format is not just exhilarating; it’s a testimony to SOCRA’s commitment to fostering genuine professional interactions. I can’t wait for us all to experience it again!”
As we gear up for the event, it’s clear that this year’s Annual Conference is as much about rekindling and building vibrant professional relationships as it is about sparking innovation and sharing knowledge within our community.Top of Form
- Everyone is welcome
Our second reason for attending the SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference emphasizes the inclusivity of our community – everyone is welcome, regardless of their position or experience level in clinical research. “When I first joined SOCRA, I was just a newcomer, yet I never felt out of place or intimidated,” recalls Jenn. “All the board members were approachable, grounded, and welcoming. I felt encouraged to share ideas, connect with colleagues, and most importantly, become involved.”
Jenn’s experience reflects SOCRA’s philosophy: you don’t have to hold a high-level position to attend the conference or make an impact. Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned professional, you have numerous opportunities to engage, learn, and contribute.
Jenn summarizes, “SOCRA offers numerous opportunities to get your foot in the door and become actively involved. If you’re willing, this conference is a great way for everyone to learn, give back to the community, and influence the future of clinical research.”
- Connect with SOCRA board members
Attending the in-person conference also offers a unique opportunity to engage with industry leaders and influencers. “One aspect I appreciate about SOCRA is how accessible our board members are during the conference,” Jenn explains. “Everyone can expect to cross paths with numerous board members because we make it a point to be present and approachable. We’re actively participating in the conference, ready to support and welcome everyone to ensure they have a smooth and enjoyable conference experience.”
- There’s an impressive lineup of regulatory speakers
Another compelling reason to attend the SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference is the impressive lineup of speakers at the Opening Plenary. This year, the conference boasts an unprecedented ensemble of regulatory figures, including an FDA representative and two Health Canada speakers.
“Our opening plenary is one to watch,” says Jenn. “It’s been some time since we’ve had such a robust lineup of regulatory speakers, all set to discuss the evolving research landscape post-pandemic, regulatory changes, and modernization of regulations surrounding clinical research.”
The plenary will also feature a patient speaker whose insights will complement the regulators’. “The patient perspective is so critical,” explains Jenn. “At the end of the day, our work is about improving health outcomes, so their viewpoint provides a crucial balance. The synergy between regulators and patients will create a truly comprehensive and insightful dialogue that I am particularly looking forward to.”
- Enhance your career
The SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference can truly be a game-changer for your career. Jenn highlights, “Attending this conference, especially for those early in their career, can be an eye-opening experience. It’s a portal to a world of possibilities, revealing roles you never knew existed and presenting innovative approaches to our work.”
She emphasizes the event’s high value for time and investment, stating, “If you choose one conference to attend, this is it.” Beyond the conference, Jenn underscores the career dividends from SOCRA involvement: “Membership broadens your learning and fosters deeper relationships, enriching your professional journey immensely.”
- Access new and relevant industry content
The SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference delivers a broad spectrum of industry content, including seven tracks, 20+ topic areas, 80+ sessions, and 100+ speakers, assuring an enlightening experience for all attendees.
A seasoned conference attendee, Jenn states, “The ever-evolving agenda ensures the sessions are new and relevant, even revealing some topics you might not be aware of yet.” She humorously admits feeling overwhelmed by the range of sessions she’d like to attend. However, she reassures, “This year, SOCRA will provide post-conference recordings on their mobile app platform, enabling attendees to review sessions at their convenience—a notable addition to this year’s event.”
View the content lineup in the 2023 Annual Conference brochure.
- Earn CE Credits
Yet another incentive to attend the SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference is the opportunity to earn Continuing Education (CE) credits, a fantastic way to accrue those vital hours of professional development.
Jenn explains, “The conference presents a unique and efficient opportunity for professionals to earn CE credits. By attending, you’re not just gaining valuable insights and forging important connections, but you’re also significantly contributing to your professional development requirements.”
For those seeking SOCRA CE credits, this educational activity offers over 50 CE credits. Attendees can earn 15 credits live during the main conference and an additional four live credits from the Preconference Workshops (back for the first time in 3 years!). For the remaining credits, on-demand viewing of recorded conference sessions will be available through the SOCRA mobile app platform for 45 days after the live event.
- Build a sense of community
One of the distinguishing features of the SOCRA Annual Conference is its unique ability to foster a sense of community among clinical research professionals. More than just a forum for business deals, the event is a space where attendees can connect, learn, and share experiences about the hands-on aspects of conducting effective clinical trials.
Jenn explains, “What makes SOCRA unique is the profound sense of community it nurtures. It is a platform where site coordinators and managers can freely exchange ideas. Our conference is a place for conversations about the real, day-to-day work of clinical trials, not just high-level decision-making.”
This conference allows for immense networking opportunities that go beyond the superficial. The SOCRA community, rooted in grassroots sensibility, encourages deep connections and valuable exchanges among attendees.
Jenn adds, “Our attendees primarily consist of the dedicated professionals on the ground, doing the crucial work in clinical trials. The managers, coordinators, site nurses, and quality professionals who attend our conference are deeply invested in the work. That’s what makes SOCRA so special – it’s about the people who do the work every day, making the most of their interactions to improve and evolve the field of clinical research.”
- Make a difference in the field of clinical research
The Annual Conference provides ample opportunities to share your ideas and make a real difference in clinical research. The event nurtures an inclusive culture where every voice matters, reinforcing the belief that one doesn’t have to hold a high-ranking position to contribute and give back to the community.
Jenn shares her experience: “My first time at a SOCRA conference, I was a speaker. I remember feeling intimidated, maybe even having a bit of imposter syndrome. To my surprise, a few years later, a past SOCRA president recalled my talk and said it had a lasting impact. That interaction was deeply validating – it was a powerful testament to the fact that in this community, everyone is seen, and every idea is valued.”
At the conference, attendees are not just spectators but active participants, with every person having something unique to share. Whether you’re a speaker or an attendee, your connections and insights can reverberate throughout the community and make a lasting impact.
Jenn emphasizes, “At SOCRA, you don’t have to be ‘somebody’ to contribute and give back. Attending the conference, engaging in conversations, and networking with peers can ripple out and create significant changes in our field.”
- Get free SOCRA swag
A lighter, yet equally enticing, reason to attend this year’s Annual Conference is the delightful assortment of free SOCRA swag! Let’s face it, who doesn’t love good quality conference goodies? They create a tangible memory of the event and are useful in our daily lives.
Jenn herself is a big fan: “I absolutely love the SOCRA swag! I’ve collected water bottles from previous years, and I constantly use the SOCRA bag—it’s high-quality, with practical pockets. I always have a SOCRA water bottle in my office. And, of course, there are useful extras like pens and notepads. The quality is exceptional, and these are items that you’ll find yourself using day in, day out.”
So, for those who appreciate quality conference souvenirs, the Annual Conference is the place to be. Beyond the insightful sessions, networking opportunities, and empowering experiences, there’s the fun bonus of walking away with some fabulous SOCRA swag!
- Experience beautiful and historic Montreal
A final irresistible reason to attend the SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference is the chance to immerse yourself in Montreal’s beautiful and historic city. Beyond the conference, Montreal offers many cultural, culinary, and historical experiences that attendees can explore. There’s much to explore, from enjoying a night out in Old Montreal to discovering local delicacies.
“The city of Montreal itself is a significant draw,” states Jenn. “You can embark on a ‘Night Out‘ walking tour with fellow conference attendees, exploring Old Montreal’s charming streets, winding through a maze of beautiful historic buildings. The tour ends with a cozy dinner at the Vieux Port Steakhouse in a beautiful century-old building. It’s an experience that beautifully balances conference learning and cultural exploration.”
Montreal is a city that boasts rich cultural offerings and iconic food choices. “Old Montreal is an area of rich culture and great food. Montreal smoked meat is something you must try! They’re also known for their poutine and bagels. And with a favorable exchange rate between the US and Canada, you’ll find the city an excellent place for shopping, eating, and drinking,” Jenn adds.
She concludes, “Montreal is easy to navigate, with Uber, taxis, and city transportation readily available. It’s also a delight to explore on foot or rented bicycles. All in all, attending the SOCRA conference is not only a great opportunity for professional growth but also offers a chance to experience a vibrant, historic city.”
Jenn’s Tips for Optimizing Your Conference Experience
If you’re interested in getting the most from the SOCRA conference, check out the following top tips from Jenn:
- Use the SOCRA conference app: The app allows you to take surveys, track your CE hours, message speakers, access slides, and navigate the conference with a built-in map.
- Participate in the Poster Program: Share your knowledge and projects with your peers and find creative ideas to implement at your institution.
- Attend the Thursday reception: Mingle with board members and fellow attendees in a casual setting before the conference kicks off.
- Step out of your comfort zone: Don’t stay in your hotel room. Come out and make meaningful connections with other attendees.
- Don’t stress if you can’t attend all the events you want – New this year, sessions will be available via video recordings, which qualify for CE hours.
- Update your passport: Finally, remember to renew your passport if you reside outside Canada!
Register today to take advantage of this opportunity to learn, network, and advance your career at the SOCRA 2023 Annual Conference. We look forward to seeing you there! Head to our website for more information about the conference, poster presentations, sponsorship opportunities, and exhibitor information.