New at AIHce: First-Time Attendees Matched with "PALs" in San Antonio

By Stephen Chiusano

The Personal AIHce Liaison (PAL) Program made its debut at AIHce 2014 with the goal of helping first-time attendees get the most out of the conference.

During registration, “first timers”—new professional attendees and students—were given the opportunity to be partnered with a personal AIHce liaison, or PAL. First timers and PALs were matched by AIHA staff, and all participants in the program received their partner’s contact information about a week before AIHce. PALs were encouraged to contact first timers before AIHce to learn what they hoped to gain from their conference experience.

All first timers and their PALs were invited to attend a First Timers Orientation session at AIHce in San Antonio, which included a breakfast accompanied by a brief presentation on the range of offerings at AIHce. There, PALs suggested sessions, events, and committee meetings for first timers to attend. Throughout AIHce, PALs helped first timers to network by introducing them to colleagues and friends.

More than 75 first timers Rob Paulsen meets with PAL Stephen Chiusano at the First Timers Orientation Session at AIHce 2014.participated in the first PAL Program at AIHce 2014. First timer Rob Paulsen, a graduate student at Colorado State University, summed up the program best:

“The conference has given me so much more than I had expected—between the unbelievable people I've met, the tools I've seen, and the new information I've learned, this experience has been one of the most valuable of any during my three years in the profession. [My] PAL’s advice was a great help, too, especially in regards to committee attendance. I'd absolutely recommend that other students participate in the PAL program.”

Stephen Chiusano, CIH, is an AIHA Fellow in Washington, D.C.

Photo: Rob Paulsen (left), a Colorado State University graduate student, meets with PAL Stephen Chiusano (right), an AIHA Fellow, at the First Timers Orientation Session at AIHce 2014 in San Antonio.