Professional nursing conferences are offered on a variety of levels. Facility-based conferences or inservices are common in many agencies. Local nursing associations may also provide annual meetings where members and students are invited to attend to hear speakers of common interest. There are many nursing conferences on a national level. These are sponsored by a variety of entities, including the various organizations for nursing specialties, as well as the American Nurses QAssociation and the National League for Nursing. There are even international nursing conferences such as those sponsored by the International Council of Nurses that the whole of nursing community will surely benefit from.
There are advantages to attending these activities. The most obvious of these is the opportunity to learn. The quality of the speakers and the conference in general will vary; not all of them will be wonderful. Even those that are not so wonderful can provide information which we can choose to explore in more depth if we feel that it is potentially helpful to us in our practice.
A caveat to all of this is that we need to go through some basic steps prior to registering and attending. Read the brochure to see who the speakers are, their credentials, and their topics of discussion. There is nothing worse than sitting through a lengthy uninteresting presentation that has absolutely no relevance to your practice. If you are fortunate enough to find a conference that sounds interesting and relevant, take a co-worker with you so that you have someone with whom you can discuss the information afterwards. This may help you not only retain the knowledge but also may provide additional strength if you want to implement changes based upon what you have learned.
Many of us have requirements from our Board of Nursing for nursing continuing education hours in order to renew our nursing licenses. Conferences can be a great way to obtain those hours. One note of caution: be sure to check before registering and attending that the entity providing the conference has approval to offer continuing education by the Board of Nursing, and that you will receive a certificate of completion of those hours. While attending and learning valuable information is important, it is always nice if you can also use those hours towards your nursing licensure requirements.
While attending, sit near the front of the room and become engaged. Ask questions, take notes, and generally take advantage of the opportunity to be there. Don’t text, surf the internet on your smart phone, etc. It is inconsiderate, but it also may distract you so that you may miss something great.
If you have never attended a nursing conference, particularly one which focuses on your specific area of practice, you may be missing a great opportunity to not only learn but also to network with the nursing community. They may have a great system or process in place which could be replicated at your workplace. Conversely, you may find out that your system or process is superior to others, that others are more short-staffed than you, etc. Who knows, you may come back feeling a lot better about where you work after talking to other nurses! We all have the same goal of providing quality safe care to our patients. How we do that may just be different from agency to agency.
Visit our home page events calendar for upcoming nursing conferences and events.