Sarah Marks

Sarah Marks

Sarah Marks is a Research Officer at Malaria Consortium’s headquarters in London, supporting research into community health delivery and pneumonia. She has a masters in Public Health from London School…read more...

Reflections on attending my first HSR Symposium

I can’t believe HSR2016 is already coming to an end. It’s been a hectic week of sessions, side meetings, and networking with a wealth of interesting people from around the world – all working to build more resilient and responsive health systems. HSR 2016 is the first major conference I have attended, so in this blog post I wanted to reflect back on what I have learnt this week, in the hope of helping others navigate their first major conference (perhaps HSR 2018 in Liverpool?) or to get the most out of the next conference they attend.

Get involved:

Being a reporter for HSGSpeaks was a fantastic experience, namely because it was a great excuse to talk to all sorts of interesting people during the week. At a large conference, it can sometimes be challenging to network beyond the people you already know so try get more involved behind the scenes at the conference if you can and you will quickly expand your network without having to think of awkward small talk.

Preparation, preparation, preparation:

It’s a busy week – you might think you can catch-up on work and organise side meetings during the breaks but that one and half hour for lunch disappears fast and at the end of the day you are probably too tired or have another conference-related event to attend. So my advice is to plan what sessions you want to attend and organise those one-to-one meetings before you even get to the conference. That way you ensure you get the most out of the conference and can focus on what’s important – exchanging ideas and meeting new people (as well as catching up with old friends!).

Displaying your conference wares:

At HSR 2016 I was presenting a poster, I think poster presentations are actually quite tricky to get right – as its about using limited space to present your research in an engaging and informative way. Furthermore thinking about how to present your poster doesn’t just stop at printing it out – you should also give some thought to how its displayed. For instance, I would recommend having colour A4 copies of your poster for people to take away, any other related reading material (but limit this to one document), and business cards. I was quite happy with how my poster came out – although I still had poster envy!

Sarah Marks presents her poster

How I displayed my poster at the conference


Sarah Marks Poster

My favourite poster at the conference – loved the interactivity with the flip chart graphs!

Have fun: 

Lastly remember to enjoy the experience….and also keep caffeine close to hand to hand to stave off sleep deprivation/jet lag!

So that’s a wrap for HSR 2016 – looking forward to seeing you all at the next HSR in 2018!