First Timer Experiences at The HAPS 2019 Conference

A note from Blog Master, Ann Raddant:
This post wraps up our series of posts looking back at the 2019 Annual Conference. If you missed any of the earlier posts, be sure to go back and give them a read. It’s almost like being back in Portland! Thanks again to all of the authors who contributed a post in this series: Meghan Moran, Bridgit Goldman, Andrew Russo, and the authors for the current post, Kevin Flaherty and Valerie Kramer. This post offers a glimpse into the first-timer experience from two participants. If you’ve never been to a HAPS meeting, I hope this post inspired you to make it happen to 2020!

HAPS member, Kevin Flaherty:
Like many of you, what I did on my summer vacation was to attend the annual HAPS meeting in Portland, OR. This was my first experience of a HAPS meeting, and what follows is my first timer’s experience of the event.

I loved it. My experience at HAPS provided me with several unique experiences that I want to bring into the other societies I belong to. One of the first unique experiences of HAPS was that I already had an idea of how the meeting worked and what the culture was like because of the A&P Professor podcast, which is sponsored by HAPS. The podcast’s host, Kevin Patton, did an episode specifically about the HAPS conference, which I found really helpful as I was preparing to go.

Another unique aspect of the HAPS meeting is the first timer breakfast. First-time attendees not only get a free meal, they also get to meet many senior members of HAPS, including the former presidents of the organization. Each table has a senior HAPS member stationed at it so that in addition to getting to meet other people who are attending the meeting for the first time, you also get to meet folks who have been around the academic block.

The Thursday talks were fascinating. I volunteered to be a Twitter correspondent for HAPS, and I found it to be a neat way to involve myself. The first talk I attended was Meghan Moran’s discussion of the relationship between the microbiome and bone. While I don’t want to recapitulate the talks here (my Twitter feed @kvflaherty has blow-by-blow accounts of all the talks I went to), I will say that this talk included my favorite line of the conference, when Dr. Moran lost her train of thought and said, “I forgot what I was going to say…it was really good though.”

On Saturday, I got my chance to contribute to the meeting. My former student, Ben Karger, and I have been researching the utility of virtual reality in anatomy education, so we hosted a workshop on VR and how it might be used in an anatomy classroom. I came away from the workshop feeling good about the level of interest in my research and excited to provide updates as my research continues.  

These moments were the ones that I really felt made HAPS for me. Every time I entered a room full of people, I instantly met people that I felt very comfortable conversing with.  Everything is easy-breezy at HAPS, even for us introverts. I’m not sure what happens behind the scenes to produce this sort of culture, but the product is a meeting that feels very welcoming.

McGraw Hill A&P Marketing Manager, Valerie Kramer:
While planning for the 2019 HAPS Conference, I knew there would be a lot to learn, presentations to give, and an exciting opportunity to meet new people and customers. What I didn’t know is that I’d leave with a conference experience like none I have experienced before. I didn’t just leave with business cards and a to-do list, I left with new friends and even more respect for those in the HAPS organization and the incredible instructors the organization serves.

 As a marketing manager for McGraw-Hill, I am responsible for hearing the needs of instructors and sharing those with our product team, then working with the product team to create the solutions instructors need for a successful experience in their course. Along with that important duty, which I believe is the most important, I get to spread the word about McGraw-Hill’s solutions in various ways, including email campaigns, on-campus relationships and presentations, and conferences like HAPS. Although marketing and conferences are not new to me, higher education has only been my work home for about two years and I’m absolutely in love. I began working with microbiology and nutrition, and recently moved into the best discipline—A&P! (Shhh… Don’t tell microbiology and nutrition instructors. They are pretty fabulous too.)

All this said, the HAPS Conference is not like any other trade show or conference, it’s unique. Why? Attendees WANT to be there! It’s a special time for instructors to bond and share similar stories and challenges. It’s a place where they can relax, laugh, and have fun in the comfort of those that share the same experiences! It’s a breath of fresh air as instructors finish their spring semesters and get re-energized for the coming year. It’s a place where learning happens and ideas flourish. A meeting of the minds I like to say, but most of all what I experienced was that HAPS is built on friends that motivate and inspire one other for the success of something bigger—their students and the future generations of educators, nurses and citizens.

Can’t wait to see the passionate instructors and meet new faces at the 2020 HAPS in Canada!

Kevin Headshot (1)

Kevin Flaherty is a visiting assistant professor teaching anatomy and neuroanatomy in the Biology Department at Augustana College in Rock Island, IL. He received his PhD in Anthropology from Penn State in 2018. His primary research interests are craniofacial development, particularly developmental disorders such as craniosynostosis, and the use of 3D visualization technology in anatomy education. In his free time, he enjoys running, playing video and board games, playing fantasy football, and spending time with his wife and two daughters.


VKramer_headshot_smallValerie Kramer is the Anatomy & Physiology Marketing Manager for McGraw-Hill. With a passion for education and the life sciences, she is responsible for assisting in the development of and bringing to market innovative tools to help instructors and students succeed in the Human Anatomy, Human Physiology, and Anatomy and Physiology courses of higher education. At McGraw-Hill, she shares insights on the pulse of Anatomy & Physiology through her ‘Succeed in A&P’ podcast and recently helped bring the new interface of Anatomy & Physiology Revealed (APR) and Connect® Virtual Labs products to market.

Outside the office, she is committed to her local community and family as a volunteer for Dubuque Main Street, a development non-profit. She also enjoys fitness, traveling, and spending time with her husband and goldendoodle. 


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