How to Make the Most of APTA-CSM 2023

APTA CSM is just around the corner, & it’s easily one of the most exciting PT conferences you’ll ever go to.  However, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by all the excitement, & before you know it, the conference is over & you don’t remember a thing.  Here’s how to make the most of your CSM experience without wasting your time & money:

APTA CSM 2023 will be here before you know it.  Even if you’ve been to CSM before, it can be overwhelming to see so many physical therapists in one place, with so many sessions to choose from.

CSM has always been like a second Christmas for me, so while I’m bummed to not see you all there this year, I want to make sure you have an amazing experience in San Diego!

CSM 2022 is quickly approaching and whether you will attend in person or not, there are some very important things to consider before you begin your CSM experience.

Plan your APTA-CSM 2023 for success

Do your research ahead of time.

Don’t go into a conference blindly. I knew very little about APTA-CSM, which was my very first conference in PT school. So when I walked into the Anaheim Convention Center for the first time, I was overwhelmed. So many physical therapy professionals, so many sessions to choose from. I picked a few sessions to go to, some that totally changed the trajectory of my PT career, but what I didn’t realize is that there were breaks in between the sessions. So I sat around for nearly an hour in a half-empty room wondering when the next session would start. Meanwhile, my friends were out looking for me…

SO…don’t go into a conference blindly. Know what you’re getting yourself into ahead of time.

Make objectives for yourself.

Create objectives for your conference experience. After doing your research, decide what you want to get out of the conference. Whether it’s specific topics, meeting particular people, or stopping by booths to network, have objectives for your time.

This doesn’t mean plan out every minute. Because again, I like the spontaneity of conferences – you never know who you might meet accidentally (PT Dan & Elise, for example). But if you have set objectives, you’re more likely to use your time wisely to accomplish these objectives, & then be open to opportunities that present themselves along the way.

Create a plan.

If you’re attending a conference with multiple session options, have a plan for what sessions you want to attend. And then have a back-up plan. Sometimes sessions have a seat limit & fill up before you can get there. Sometimes sessions are duds. I’ve definitely been to a few of those so far: you excitedly show up, ready to learn, only to discover that the content or the presentation bore you to tears. And you need to make a quick exit.

So when these happen, because they probably will at some point, it’s helpful to have a back-up plan to still salvage the session for you.

Have a note-taking system.

This looks differently for every person. Will you write or type? Are you going to make notes on a google doc or on the slides from the presenter? Are there even slides from the presenter? Are you going to take notes or not?

If you do take notes, will you jot down highlights or are you trying to write all major points made by the speaker?

Be realistic with yourself.

If you know that you’ll be completely overwhelmed & exhausted with a completely packed conference schedule, then don’t do that.

But at the end of the day, be realistic, because I want you to ENJOY your conference experience!

CSM events you don’t want to miss:

The Trifecta for Success: Building a Pediatric Oncology Rehabilitation Program From the Ground Up

Pediatrics probably has one of the best approaches to oncology rehab in their Stoplight program.  One of the brains behind this is Lynn Tanner (who I interviewed back in Ep. 101), & she’s back with an amazing tutorial on how her group truly built a pediatric oncology rehab program from scratch.  

Implementing a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Program for Patients Undergoing Stem Cell Transplant in a Healthcare System

If you listened to Ep. 232, you’ll remember this amazing team working to change rehab for patients undergoing stem cell transplants.  This group of Mia Palazzo, Jonas Sokolof, Galen Schram, & Jenna DiSimone are giving us the behind the scenes of how they implemented a truly comprehensive program from start to finish at their healthcare system.  Plus, what I really love is that they’re also providing useful strategies to implement comprehensive SCT rehab no matter where you practice, even for a solo private practice owner like myself.

The Silent Sequela: Addressing Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Toxicities in the Oncology Population

This power-packed panel is seriously going to blow your socks off.  Julie Skrzat, Scott Capozza, Aubrene Fiore, & Laura Friedman are presenting on all things cardiopulmonary toxicities.  

In PT school, cardiopulm was absolutely one of my least favorite sections, but now I’m really into cardiovascular & pulmonary complications from cancer treatment.  Call me a nerd, but this is totally something you should get into as well.  

If nothing else, the increasing numbers of long-term cancer survivors with cardiopulmonary issues is staggering – so you’d better be prepared for when these patients show up on your caseload.

This session takes place on Friday, February 24 from 3-5pm.  If you want a preview of this content, check out Ep. 215 with Julie & Scott (that I recorded back in 2021).  I’ve literally been looking forward to this session for 2+ years.

Party with a Purpose

Jimmy McKay, voice behind PT Pintcast, is hosting an amazing fundraiser for non-profit organizations this year at CSM.  Not going to lie: this is probably the number one thing I’m bummed about missing (tied with watching Scott Capozza be honored with the Debra Flomenhoft Humanitarian Award).  Get more information on this amazing event here.


APTA-CSM is an amazing opportunity to learn, meet new people, connect with old friends, & put some pep in your PT step.  Make a plan for your CSM experience & enjoy it!

Until next time, this is Elise with TheOncoPT.  And remember you are exactly the physical therapist that your patients with cancer need. So let’s get to work.

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