Preparing for National Teaching Institute 2017
You are going to NTI 2017! You are so lucky! This is the best critical care conference ever and you want to make the most of it. Here are some tips from insiders....
Critical care nursing changes fast! Keeping up with the ever increasing changes challenges all of us. Who has time on a busy shift to read a journal or listen to a podcast? So, why not get away from your unit, come to a conference where there will be over 8,000 critical care nurses?
And...that conference is AACN's National Teaching Institute - NTI 2017.
Of course, its not as easy as getting on a plane and jetting off to Houston, Texas. Lets get the steps in order.
How to pay for the conference?
Conferences are expensive. Do you receive educational money from your organization? Are there available? Some ways I've come up with the money in the past for conferences:
1. When the organization offered educational money for school, I've pitched the idea of using some of that money for a conference.
2. I offer to conduct bite-sized educational pieces to the unit in exchange for conference cost. These have included bathroom/locker room poster presentations, short spiels at shift report, and a presentation at a monthly unit meeting. I've also worked on updating policy and procedure books to reflect current practice. NTI offers an "Action Pack" which is a take-home toolkit to easily share with your unit co-workers.
3. Shared costs with a co-worker. I've driven to conferences (when reasonable) to cut costs and shared a hotel room.
4. Combined a conference with a family vacation. My husband and I are actually doing this soon.
5. NTI offers a ready-made packet to justify the expense and emphasize the benefit that the conference will have for the entire unit. I've used these in the past also.
6. Look at the costs of a one or two day attendance.
Now...you are ready to go...or are you?
1. The earlier you register, the best chance you will have to pick the sessions you want to attend and get the best hotel rate. If possible, I try to register in the "early-bird" period in order to have the best picks. I peruse the topics to see what interests me or which speaker I would most like to hear. NTI offers pre-conference sessions as well. These can be great opportunities to network and further hone skills or delve in-depth to a subject.
2. A word about hotels: try to get a room at the conference hotel. NTI has convention housing management which will help to guide you to a hotel.
3. Transportation: start scouting flights as soon as you decide where/when you are going. On most travel sites you can set alarms so that you are notified when a price drops. NTI also offers an airline discount code.
4. Cancellations: Invest in travel insurance. This will cover (depending on the policy of course) your flight and hotel if you have an emergency and can not attend.
Save your receipts. If you are not reimbursed by your organization, these expenses can be tax deductible.
Check into your hotel and obtain a map of the hotel and surrounding area. Where are the restaurants? The sites of interest locally? If you are not in the conference hotel, plan now on how to get to the conference sites. Ask the hotel concierge how much time should you allow to get to the conference? If you are taking a cab, find out approximately the cost BEFORE you engage their services. Is mass-transit available and convenient? If other attendees are in the same hotel, is there a conference shuttle, can you share rides and split the cost? NTI has a shuttle service to and from many local hotels.
Expect to do a lot of walking so wear comfortable shoes. This might be the most important tip of all! Eat a protein-filled breakfast to power you thru the morning sessions. Bring snacks that can be eaten on the run. For lunch, the conference food stands and restaurants can often be over-run. They may not be open all day either. Perhaps grab lunch on one of your earlier breaks instead of the traditional lunch time.
Use your lunch time wait to network and talk with others in line - maybe arrange to get together for dinner to discuss the conference, their work environment. Ask if they have attended the conference before and if yes, what are their tips?
And don't forget to explore Houston!
Most of all...enjoy yourself, learn something new, get refreshed and take back some knowledge to your unit.
Have a great conference experience! We'll see you there!