Conferences are expensive, you often have to travel a far ways, stay in a hotel, and it takes time away from your practice and income. So why attend?
The Pros of Attending Local and International Medical Conferences:
Attend a well organized conference and you can learn from the best of the best. There are many misconceptions and old guidelines that get challenged by our leading researchers and practitioners.
For example, at the 2015 AANP Dr. Lee Shulman, MD educated on the importance of adding HPV screens with the cervical cytology pap smear to screen for pre-cancerous cervical cancer. (click here for a my notes from Dr. Sulman’s talk on, “HPV update and new changes in Pap Smear…”)
2. CE Credits
You need to get them, so you may as well get them all at once. Attend a major conference and you’ll collect enough CE’s for the whole year or two. Even if you do a lot of other CEC’s throughout the year, you may be missing some from various sections. Don’t wait till the last minute, get them at your annual conferences.
3. Get One-On-One Time
What other opportunity would you have to get one-on-one time with forward-thinking and innovating practitioners? Conferences are a great chance to not only talk with a speaker, but attendees who are experts in their fields. Conferences tend to attract education-seeking practitioners who are leading the way in health care and research.
4. Online Networking
Most of my ND networking is done online. Sometimes being a practitioner can be isolating. Online forums and relationships can help strengthen our profession and unify our efforts. Attending major conferences gives me a chance to meet these people face-to-face to create a stronger relationships.
For example, my colleague and the co-founder of Bright Almond, Dr. Meghan Walker, ND is someone I’ve connected with online but never met in person. The AANP conference was a great chance to introduce ourselves, share our passion for supporting the ND profession and build a deeper relationship.
5. Offline Networking
Dr. Paul Herscu said something that really struck me at the AANP. He said, “I only refers patients to NDs who regularly attend conferences because they are the ones continuing to better themselves”. Of course that doesn’t mean other NDs aren’t advancing their knowledge in other ways, but it’s a way for him to recognize and put more trust for his referrals.
There are so many brilliant NDs in our profession who I’ve never met or paid attention to their work. Attending conferences helps to broaden my offline network for potential clinical support, referrals and education.
6. Samples and Order Discounts
As a student, I remember trade shows as being the gold mine for FREE STUFF. Stuff to try and give to friends or family. I was so concerned with visiting each booth and trying to talk as little as possible. Just get in — and get out.
Now, I still get excited for FREE STUFF, but I take only things I will use and am much more interested in what the company has to offer and why I should choose them over another company. Getting a deeper understanding of companies to use for your dispensary (in office or online) get’s confusing and over-whelming, so it’s great to talk with the reps to get a full understanding of their product line.
7. Learning the Latest Technology
Major conferences will often send brilliant tradeshow exhibitors who are well-versed in their products and can introduce novel and superior technology.
This is the first time I’ve attended the AANP and I really appreciate seeing American companies that offer different technology than in Canada.
8. Business Expense, Reunions and Fun
Write it off. Extend your trip and make it a well-deserved holiday by writing off your flights and accommodations for the conference days.
It is also a great chance to reunite with old classmates and colleagues in a social atmosphere. There is almost always a sponsored gala or evening event where you can let loose and have some fun with your follow NDs.
9. Supports your Naturopathic Bodies
Conferences are often an ideal places to learn about the directions of our Naturopathic medical profession. It is a place to keep up-to-date and to make empowered and educated decisions on what is happening in our industry.
I was excited to attend the global health discussion at the AANP. I learnt about the direction of the World Naturopathic Federation (WNF) and their growing relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO). I was also able to talk with Dr. Tabatha Parker, ND and Dr. Michael Cronin, ND to see how I can help support global Naturopathic medicine.
Which Conferences Should I Attend?
- Integrative Medicine & Health (ICIMH)
- IN-CAM Symposium (Canada)
- Restorative Medicine (Integrative practitioners)
- International Congress for Naturopathic Medicine (ICNM)
- Hawaii Doc Talk
- Mindshare Summit (business collaboration)
- Conferences in your area of focus and interest: OncANP, EndoANP, The Mental Wellness Summit (online), American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (A4M)
Tips to Make Your Conference Affordable
- Bunk with a friend or even someone you don’t know
- Reach out to a local ND and stay with them in their home
- Book your trip early and get reduced air flights and car rentals
- Volunteer for the conference
- Work for a responsible supplement company that can sponsor your trip
- Apply to be a speaker at the conference
- Share your notes with colleagues who couldn’t attend and vice versa