This year was the first time I both attended and presented at the American Psychological Association (APA) Convention. It was held August 8-11th, in Chicago, IL. With over 12,000 educators, practitioners, researchers, and students, the convention provided an environment for expanding professional networks, gaining new skills through workshops, and learning about the current state of research and applications across a diverse set of topics related to psychology. They offered great resources for first time attendees, such as the Newbie Hive Lounge (clever name). Their Solution Center was full of vendors exhibiting the latest products, tools, and technology offered to the psych community. The Exchange was designed to facilitate discussion among small groups focused on specific topics. And because APA practices what they preach, they offered an inclusive Massage Relaxation and Wellness Center. After walking from session to session and all around the showroom floor each day, this was well deserved.
Although there was a strong clinical-based presence and the convention, APA is actually a consortium of different divisions. Division 21: Applied and Experimental Psychology and Division 19: Military Psychology brought a variety of presentations that were more in line with my field of research. I learned about some of the major risk factors and gaps NASA has identified in their human research roadmap that need to be addressed in order to better understand human performance in isolated, confined, and extreme (ICE) environments. I also learned about how wearable biosensors and artificial intelligence (AI) were being combined for extended patient care. There were many sessions regarding gamification research with applications for the well-being of aging populations and designing environments to reduce toxic gameplay. There were even sessions that talked about human-robot teaming and how to foster better relationships among these teams in order to improve performance outcomes.
As you can see, APA is more than just clinically focused. The work you do may have applications in domains you may not have previously thought possible or were even aware. I said it before and I'll say it again…get out of your comfort zone, expand your knowledge, and diversify your network, because you never know how your work can transition and make a difference elsewhere until you get out there and see what the rest of the world is doing.
If you attended the APA 2019 Convention, what did you get out of it?
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