Why Should I Go To A Conference?
Nurses have the immense privilege of being able to enhance their career through education and involvement. We get information from many sources, such as this website offering advice, educational information, and networking. Nursing is an ever changing and growing field and in order to be the best we can be, we have to be our own advocate and seek out the best for ourselves and our patients. Conferences can be a tremendous asset in building our experience as nurses.
Whatever your specialty is as a nurse, there is probably an organization that you can get involved in. From the American Nursing Organization to American Forensic Association, there is one that you can fit into. If you are looking for one, there is an extensive list when you google "List of Professional Nursing organizations." When you click on one, it takes you to their website and you can read all about them. Most, if not all offer certification, local regions to get involved with, and national conferences. I highly recommend getting involved with one. Not only does it develop you personally, but as a nurse, and it looks good on your resume.
I attend as many local conferences that I can each year, and this year for the first time, I committed to going to a national conference for SGNA (Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates). I love to travel, so going to New Orleans for the first time with my daughter and meeting my best friend there was icing on the cake. I knew it would cost, so I began saving months ahead so that I wouldn't have to stress about the price tag. Booking the flight early also helped to save some money.
The hotel was at a discount rate because the conference had booked a block of rooms, plus sharing the cost with a roommate helped tremendously. Restaurants seemed to be a bit more expensive there, and occasionally my daughter and I shared a plate which also saved some money. I also paid early enough to get the early bird registration price for the conference, so that saved money as well. It takes some planning, but the money saved by not waiting til the last minute was well worth it.
I was able to plan online what sessions that I wanted to go to at the conference after my payment was made. This allowed me to tailor the conference to my interests. They had set up an app for my phone that told me which session was next, what room it was in, and at what time. It helped keep me on track. There were a variety of sessions to choose from and every experience level was represented. I wanted to take advantage of my time and money, so I signed up for as many as I could and was still able to have plenty of time to see the French Quarter.
There were general sessions that everyone was able to go to that I enjoyed very much. To see that many GI nurses in one place was exciting. The speakers were great, reminding us not to be so busy that we miss the pleasure in life, and offered great information that I took back to my co-workers. The educational aspect of conferences is invaluable. There is always something to learn. This is the aspect that makes you heads above the rest. The more you know, the better nurses you are. All the information gathered at these conferences can be then shared with co-workers. Having the latest information in our hands helps us make more informed nursing decisions as well as exceptional patient advocates.
There were large posters displayed for us to study with abstracts that offered a solution to a problem or a better way to do something. These abstracts were done by nurses just like you and me. They put a lot of work into them and I appreciated that. There were sessions as well that the authors of these posters took fifteen minutes to tell us about their work. My favorite was the one that showed that achalasia can be triggered by the herpes zoster virus as an autoimmune response. As a nurse that does manometry (a procedure that shows the peristalsis of the esophagus as well as the UES and LES pressures) this was of great interest to me. I know that I will investigate that possibility in the next achalasia patient that I see.
Going to conferences allows for great networking with fellow nurses, representatives from companies, doctors and other professionals. One never knows when contacts can be utilized.
The best part of the trip was being able to share with my daughter and best friend the city of New Orleans. We didn't have a car, so we walked everywhere. I like this because you get the feel of the city, the sights, sounds, and smells that are very unique in this diverse city. The street performers were a delight. I saw painters, tap dancers, rag tag bands, and a saxophone player. On top of that, the food was phenomenal. I tried char-grilled oysters for the first time and I want more! We stopped for beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde and enjoyed a first class dinner at Arnaud's. The memories from this trip will last a lifetime. The old mixed with new in the French Quarter intrigued the eye and challenged the human spirit. The rich food and history of New Orleans are now engrained in my mind and I will definitely go back.
I recommend going to conferences, local or national for personal and professional growth. Not only so you get CEUs, but you learn new things, see new equipment and procedures, and meet new people. Traveling to new places is a bonus - bring family or friends to enjoy the sights with you.
What nursing organizations are you involved in? Tell us your highlight from your last conference.Last edit by Joe V on Jun 15, '18
About Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN
Joined: Oct '14; Posts: 229; Likes: 838
RN at Gi Lab; from TN , US
Specialty: 25 year(s) of experience in Gastrointestinal NursingSep 30, '17Joined: Jun '17; Posts: 39; Likes: 6Hello Brenda, I will love to go to nursing conferences in my area but at the moment I cant afford the cost unfortunately. Thanks for the article !Oct 1, '17Joined: Jan '13; Posts: 1,975; Likes: 4,305Attended my first conference in Vegas and it was a great experience. Will definitely do it again!