What do you mean "they would never send anyone?" First of all, "they" dont "send " anyone. Its like an ed day for a professional conference. You dont wait for someone to "send" you - you go for yourself, for your own growth, & your own benefit.
Convention is a NURSE thing - NOT a hospital thing.
Dont wait for an employer to pick people "to send". If you really want to go, just tell them you are going to your professional annual convention (same as they all do!). And since the hospital & pts will benefit from the experience & education you receive at the convention, you should apply to your employer for help with the expenses...... they do it for the MDs, the other professionals, the executives, and the CEO---- why not you too?
If you were part of a nurses union, this professional issue would be negotiated into your contract & the employer would not be able to deny you. If you arent union, you are at his mercy, but the least you can do for yourself is try - present your argument & apply for the funds & ask why its ok for all the other professionals there to be assisted in attending their professional conferences but its not ok for the nursing professionals there. Maybe no one ever told your employer there is a such thing as a nurses convention. So tell him, & ask him to help pay for your attending, like they help the other professionals. You get out of this life only what youre willing to take.
Convention is great - really energizing & invigorating & hopeful. You dont have to be a member to attend a state assoc convention. Its packed with tons of CEU classes on topics like financial planning for RNs, retirement planning for RNs, legal issues for RNs, clinical issues & practice, educational issues, management issues, workplace issues, OSHA, JCAHO, legislative/government affairs, separate breakout sessions for each specialty group & their own issues (like for home care nurses), plenary sessions, and any other kind of nursing topic you can think of.
Its like a CEU conference marathon - different ones going on at the same time - you attend the ones that interest you. Some are serious, some are lots of fun. There are even sessions specially for retired nurses & there are also fun fund raising events like 10K races to help support charities like Nurses House or American Cancer Society. In addition, there is a vendors showcase & job fair going on throughout the convention so nurses can find out the latest in equipment, supplies, techniques in the field, and career opportunities.
There are member's voting body sessions that include every member attending & there are union branch break-out sessions for the unionized nurses in the assoc.
There are luncheons and dinners sponsored by the vendors & participants that bring nurses from all over the state together in celebration of themselves & to have a good relaxing enjoyable time together. Also, there are usually sightseeing excursions planned by the nurses who live in that city.
A state assoc convention is usually held in a different city around the state every year. One year it may be taking place close enough so that you can drive to it & not have to stay over in a hotel. Or you can choose to go to just one day of the convention - so no need to stay overnight - or go to just part of it & not stay the entire 4 days. You dont have to attend the whole convention - you can register for however few days you choose & still obtain a lot of knowledge from the sessions you will attend. Also, if you are a member of your state assoc, the registration fee & hotel rooms are usually discounted. Member or not, if you shared the room with 2 or 3 of your nurse friends, the costs can be significantly less for each.
In my union, nurses receive paid educational days from work to attend convention & for registration reimbursement - NOT out of the goodness of our CEOs heart , but because WE insisted on it, demanded it, & had it written into our union contract.
After all, its an accepted professional business world fact and practice that professionals will attend their organizations annual convention. The CEO, MDs, & other executives attend their professional conferences & conventions all the time --- with expenses paid for by the hospital too. Why should we accept being treated as second class citizens in the professional world & accept being told we cant be treated as the other professionals are treated?
Dont wait for you employer to offer to "send you". Nobody is going to be "sent" to convention and assisted with the costs of attending until somebody demands that the employer do so for the nurses too.
I know how you feel - Im a single parent of 3 daughters in private school, paying the mortgage & doing the college thing for one too. Still I have to do something for myself at least once a year. I go to the UAN convention for just 2 days in June every year. I go to my state assoc convention when I can but sometimes its too far away - last month it was in Montreal - I couldnt arrange child care so I didnt go - which bothered me because convention is where the members do the voting & directing of the business of the assoc and if youre not there, you miss out on having your say. (the members passed a resolution this year for mail-in ballots, so I think this problem is going to be solved now)
So I attended my state assoc convention last year - missed it this year - but I will be attending our state assocs legislative workshop (one day on Wall St) & then our legislative lobby day at our state capitol (one day in Albany). Total expense: $1.50 for the train to the free Staten Island Ferry, then I walk the few blocks to our Wall St office from there. I'll be back home in time to get the kids dinner. To Albany, cost is a tank of gas & a couple of EZ pass tolls on the NYS Thruway. No more excuses to be uninvolved.
If you cant attend a convention, try one of the state assoc's inexpensive workshops or legislative events - those can be just as educational, invigorating, exciting, & energizing as convention.
Dont be ashamed for not being able to be more involved when you children were small, but now that they are older, if you really want to be involved, where there is a will there is a way. You might find that one inexpensive day of your time is do-able too.