Tag Archives: professional development

Ten tips for a successful professional conference

Attending a professional conference can yield many benefits if you follow these 10 tips.

1 Obtain new knowledge. Conferences provide opportunities for clinicians to gain new knowledge about procedures, technology, and research. Take notes and keep handouts for reference. After you return, share what you have learned with colleagues so multiple people benefit from the conference. Remember to complete the necessary information to obtain professional continuing education (CE) credit.

2 Become certified. Conferences typically provide opportunities for attendees to take certification exams or attend sessions to prepare for exams. If you’re planning to take a certification test, obtain test blue prints at the conference or attend a pre- or post-conference session that focuses on the certification exam. If you’re ready to test, sign up before the conference so you can become certified while you’re away.

3 Visit the exhibitors. Exhibitors display their products and services at conferences. Scheduled exhibit sessions allow attendees to explore new equipment, computer programs, textbooks, and many other products. Use this time to meet the exhibitors and learn more about their products and services; pick up some fun materials, such as free pens, highlighters, and sticky notes; and register to win free drawings. Many exhibitors now also offer CE sessions.

4 Network. Professional conferences draw international and national colleagues to one location. This collective venue allows for networking with experts in the fields of education, administration, and clinical practice. For example, meeting a speaker who is presenting a conference session on a topic that is similar to your work interest can provide information about ways to implement a new teaching strategy or an administrative policy or to conduct research. These opportunities also may lead to collaborative work projects in the future. Networking can occur during conference sessions such as poster and oral presentations, during meal times, or even during nonconference time. Remember to pack business cards to share with others and take advantage of having the chance to interact with experts throughout the trip.

5 Serve on committees. Attending conferences not only allows for networking but provides opportunities for clinicians to serve on committees within a professional organization. Committee positions  are typically elected by members of the professional organization. Once elected, clinicians usually meet to complete or review committee work during conference time. Committee service allows you to collaborate with other colleagues and can help you grow professionally.

6 Take advantage of “think time.” Conferences provide time for you to generate new ideas for research, teaching, administration, or clinical practice by taking you away from daily work demands and giving you time to consider new ideas. These ideas may occur during a conference session or during travel or down time. Take advantage of this “think time” by creating a new “to do” list of work projects to complete in the future. Make the list at the conference while the ideas are fresh and before daily work interferes. When you return from the conference, remember to review the list and assign due dates so that the ideas remain clear and the work projects are completed.

7 Catch up on work. Conferences provide some uninterrupted time to catch up on work. Down time that occurs between conference sessions, during travel, or throughout the day can give clinicians time to complete work. You can use this time to grade papers, complete reports, or check email. Using down time productively helps you avoid feeling “behind” after the conference.

8 Rejuvenate, rest, and relax. It’s easy for clinicians to become overwhelmed with daily demands and pressure from colleagues, students, or patients. Even preparing for the conference and traveling can be stressful. Once at the conference, however, you’re away from stress, so be sure to save some time to rest and relax. Take a nap, sleep slightly later in the morning, or relax with a good book. This can help to rejuvenate your spirit and restore your enthusiasm for your professional role.

9 Exercise. Most hotels provide a fitness room where guests can exercise. Take advantage of this service to help overcome jet lag and to keep up on your normal routine. Exercise is also helpful to avoid gaining weight from the added calories of dining out during the trip. Walking outside or on a treadmill may feel good after sitting through sessions during the day.

10 Play tourist. Conferences are typically held in prominent cities to foster attendance and tourism. Use this opportunity for exploring the city, shopping, or dining. Tourism information is usually included in the conference brochure. There also may be group trips to participate in even if you are traveling alone. Enjoy your location during nonconference sessions by having some tourism fun and visiting places of interest.

Consider these guidelines for a productive conference whether you have attended multiple conferences or are planning your first trip. These tips will help you to return from the conference feeling rested and filled with new knowledge, ideas, and enthusiasm. ?

Kristy S. Chunta is an associate professor for the department of nursing and allied health professions in the college of health and human services at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Selected reference

Rodgers K. The top 5 reasons to attend a nursing conference. Nov. 5, 2007.

What to do when someone pushes your buttons

By Laura L. Barry, MBA, MMsc, and Maureen Sirois, MSN, RN, CEN, ANP

Why is it that some things don’t bother us, while other things catapult us from an emotional 0 to 60 mph in a heartbeat? We all know what it feels like when someone says or does something that gets our juices flowing. We feel it in our bodies, emotions, and mood. We have an overwhelming urge to react. We may express it in words at the time or take our frustrations out later on someone else. It just doesn’t feel good. We want to explode, set the record straight.

If the button pusher is your boss, you may internalize your reaction. Your mind is still buzzing with what you’d like to say, but you’re not likely to express those angry words to a superior at work. On the other hand, if the button pusher is a significant other, colleague, child, or friend, you may choose not to hide your feelings. Perhaps you’ll have a minor explosion and let them know how you feel.

But what are you really reacting to? You might think it’s the situation at hand, but it isn’t. Instead, you’re reacting to something about that situation. Maybe it reminds you of a past emotional wound. Perhaps you’re interpreting it in a certain way. Whatever it is, it’s usually something deeper. When someone pushes a button, there’s always more to the story than just the current situation.

Having our buttons pushed is uncomfortable, and we’d prefer to avoid it. But the truth is, we can’t avoid it. It will happen again and again, each time building on the last. So instead of trying to avoid it, try to embrace it.

Pause and dig deeper

The next time someone pushes one of your buttons, don’t react instinctively. Instead, pause for a moment and dig deeper to try to find the cause of your reaction—something beneath the surface that needs to be excavated and studied gently.

Often, when a button gets pushed, we blame the button pusher for how it makes us feel—for what that person did to us to cause this reaction. We externalize the issue and don’t take responsibility or own what our bodies are telling us. (See Button pusher as teacher.)

But what if we looked at our buttons in a whole new light? Instead of hiding them and never knowing when and where they will be pushed, what if we unearthed them and shone light on them?

To look at a situation honestly and gently requires compassion toward yourself. Getting to what’s beneath the issue at hand or the surface emotion is a growth opportunity. It gives you the chance to look at the situation differently. It means you’ve opened yourself up to learning and healing.

Unearthing unresolved wounds

Recently, a most tender button of mine was pushed; someone made a comment that was unexpected and unappreciated. That’s it. But it really bothered me. I immediately thought, “This person always does this to me…never has anything nice to say. This feels humiliating.”

I restrained myself from responding (although I’m sure my body language and facial expression spoke volumes). Instead, I paused, and once I was away from that person, I did some deep breathing to release my feelings. I thought about what was said and how I felt. During that pause, I realized my body was telling me there was more to this than just the unappreciated comment. I realized the intensity of my feeling was out of proportion to the comment.

As I let myself sit with this disturbing emotion, I asked myself, “Why does this bother me?” I realized it bothered me because it made me feel I hadn’t been heard. So what does that mean and where else in my life do I feel I haven’t been heard? As I continued to dig, I remembered many of the other times I’d felt this way. I realized that not being heard is an old wound coming from my childhood in a big family. To me, not being heard means not being loved or cared about—or at least that’s how I interpreted it.

The current issue had brought up those old, unresolved hurts and beliefs from childhood so they could be healed. As an adult, I can look back at that childhood “me” who was hurt and tend to the wound so it doesn’t have to keep resurfacing at unpredictable times. And when it does arise, I can lovingly say, “Oh, it’s you again.” I can pause, honor my feelings from the past, and give myself permission to feel what I’m feeling. I can remind myself that this is an old wound surfacing now for healing.

This perspective helps me realize the experience is happening for me, not to me. That shift in my perspective allows room for investigation, curiosity, and most importantly, healing. When something happens for me, it implies it’s good; when it happens to me, I’m a victim. “For me” comes with intention and purpose. “To me” comes with blame and hurt.

Cords of connection

In a sense, invisible hollow cords connect us to every experience and relationship from our past. Even when an experience or relationship is complete (perhaps you’d describe it as “over”), those invisible cords of connection remain. I use the word complete rather than over because when we complete something, we acknowledge a finality, sometimes with a sense of accomplishment, and move to the next door that’s opening. We complete grade school and move on to high school. We complete an exam and become certified in a field. We complete grocery shopping and go home to make dinner. Complete removes judgment.

The invisible cords of connection can be a drain if they are cords of fear, anger, hurt, resentment or if they carry a “should-have” implication. Those cords need to be cut—with kindness—by a willingness to look deeper into our reactions. They’re energy drains. When the function of the umbilical cord is complete, it must be cut for the greatest good of mother and child. So, too, with past experiences or relationships that are complete. For the greatest good of all involved, the cord that no longer serves a loving, peaceful purpose must be cut. Only cords of love, compassion, peace, and joy can sustain.

Pause, digest, reflect, and respond

Having your buttons pushed can be a wonderful way to find out what invisible cords of connection need attention. Through a willingness to excavate the underlying cause of our reaction, we begin the healing process.

So for today, I will notice and be grateful when someone pushes my buttons. I will pause, digest, reflect, and respond. Knowing it’s being done for me and not to me, I’ll be grateful for the growth and awareness it can bring, grateful that my body speaks to me.

And you? What buttons will be pushed for you today? When they are pushed, will you pause, digest, reflect, and dig deep to find the cause of your reaction? Will you cut the invisible cord?

Laura L. Barry is business consultant and leadership coach. Maureen Sirois is a nurse consultant on health and wellness. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Wound Care Advisor. All clinical recommendations are intended to assist with determining the appropriate wound therapy for the patient. Responsibility for final decisions and actions related to care of specific patients shall remain the obligation of the institution, its staff, and the patients’ attending physicians. Nothing in this information shall be deemed to constitute the providing of medical care or the diagnosis of any medical condition. Individuals should contact their healthcare providers for medical-related information.