Road to the Symposium Blog – March 29th, 2018

By Mui Van Zandt

Since teaching the OMOP Vocabulary/CDM class at the 2017 Symposium, we have retaught the class multiple times. Preparing for each tutorial has proven to be a fun and enlightening journey.

We use to carry around flash drives that stored a 45 GB little box, ‘OHDSI-in-a-box’. Before the training, we would send out emails to have everyone download Oracle VM and a sample dataset to make sure the box was set up properly. At the beginning of the training, we would have the students download the box on the flash drives. At times, the box would not work and we would have to spend some time troubleshooting them. At the 2017 Symposium, we had a revolution. Mike Warfe created a remote desktop image which contains everything we needed. This allowed the students who had issues with the virtual box access the “box”. And the light bulb went off. Now, we no longer have carry the flash drives around. That’s community effort!!!!
This year, we are preparing for multiple symposiums. Each symposium preparation is different and exciting on its own. The first tutorial took place last week at the European OHDSI Symposium. To prep for this tutorial, the teachers meet on a weekly basis to update the slides, practice, discuss agenda, and provide each other with support. The days leading up to the symposium, we did dry runs, check room set ups, make last minute changes, had a few laughs and a few hours less sleep. The day of the tutorial, we get up early to be in the classroom before everyone else and make sure everything is all ready to go. Talk about the nervousness that floated around. Of course, we had to run into technical issues. Peter Rijnbeek and his team came to the rescue. As the class got settled, the show began. And each teacher, regardless how nervous they were beforehand, got up there, they looked like natural experts. After 8 hours, each student walked out happy and full of knowledge about OMOP.

For the Chinese Symposium in June, work is beginning. We are gathering volunteer to teach or assist. Although this will be the third Symposium I’ll be teaching at, there is always different. For this tutorial, the logistics is going to be tricky. We are looking at running a few of the same class in parallel so there is a lot of coordination that needs to happen. Although challenging, I have confidence that the community will come together to help make the Chinese tutorials a success! We do have a train the trainer session in May in Shanghai so if you are interested in being a teacher, let me know.

Knowing my fellow teachers, they are going to want to start planning for the Symposium tutorials this fall soon. Thinking about it makes me very exciting. The collaboration, sense of team work, the friends you make, and the satisfaction you can get from it outweighs any all the hard work all the teachers put into it.

Be on the lookout for the tutorials this fall. They will not disappoint!

Check out Anthony Reckard’s blog entry here: