Q&A with Dr. Debra: Education Is Not Cheap
Recently, I received an evaluation from one the registrants criticizing the NADNP's President's Party given each year at the annual conference. While I feel that I do not need to defend what we do at the conference, I did want to address what I feel is the bigger issue. Each year, NP education is supported by vendors who make it possible for free student registrations, low registration fees, meals, speaker support, etc. In fact, our annual conference would not be possible without this support. This is true for many, if not all, educational conferences.
While many NPs may be business savvy, there are always some who may not understand what happens "behind the scenes" of these events. Many people do not know what it takes to put on a conference, so it may be understandable why one would question a meeting, gathering, or party for vendors. To make it clear, these events would NEVER be possible based on registration fees! During the conferences the organization's board members are incredibly busy trying to make sure things run smoothly. In my case, this dinner party is the time for vendors to get uninterrupted time with the board. Just like the Exhibit Dinner Party is the registrant's opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with the vendors. However, for the record, thirty registrants were selected from the conference to join us at this party so we could spend some uninterrupted time with some of the members as well.
Another comment we received was about the necessity of symposiums. We seek out symposiums that offer the most current treatments in dermatology. For primary care NPs, these symposiums offer an opportunity to hear information you would not get in your practice setting. While these programs are optional and do not offer contact hours, it is the time to allow vendors unopposed time with the registrants. Again, this is common for most conferences and is crucial to the conference budget. Attending them and giving the vendors your time is a great way to say "thank you" to them.
So what does it take to make a conference like this happen? For the first conference NADNP planned, I was in shock of the cost to produce a conference. While I don't believe any other organization has discussed their budget before publically, I am happy to give some disclosure in order to help others understand what organizations may do for their members and conference registrants. Here's a small sample of items for the NADNP conference budget. It is not all inclusive, but it gives you an idea on the high end expenses.
- Marketing $30,000+ and this is a conservative cost because we keep it low.
- Hotel (Food , Beverage, service fees, etc.): $90,000+. BTW, for those who want coffee all day, that can cost $6,000 per day!
- Exhibit contractor: $2,000
- Speakers: $30,000+
- AV: $9,000+
- IT support: $6,700
- Photography: $2,000+
- CEU Application/Educational Specialist: $5,000+
- Eval Service: $1,500+
- Programs/bags/lanyards: $5,000+
For NADNP, we do not use a management company which can cost $20,000+ and volunteer students help keep costs down so registration fees have stayed the same. For example, the registration fee of $450 for 150 registrants brings in $67,500. This does not include the free registrations we give to support student education. The rest in brought in by vendor support. The budget for the President's Party is less than $4,000, yet it priceless to them and us to be able to spend time getting to know the needs of our profession and improving opportunities for practice and education. It is also a way to learn what is important to them so they keep supporting us. For me, the exchange is invaluable and ultimately benefits the conference participants. How do you think we get all of those great "give away" gifts at the exhibit booths and raffle items? So rest assured, no participant's registration goes for any support of this vendor event.
So as we move forward to the end of the year, please remember to thank those who have sponsored NP education. This includes all of the nursing organization's board members, volunteers, etc. who spend COUNTLESS of uncompensated time making this happen for YOU! I personally stopped counting after putting in over 1,500 hours of my time uncompensated doing this each year. At $75 per hour, that is at least $112,500. So I would say we are all cheap laborers with one dinner out each year!
I have tried to give you a brief overview, even though somewhat simplified, on what it takes to make this all happen. For the larger organizations, I am sure their budget far exceeds our costs. This is why at every the conference we always recognize and give thanks to these vendors. It is so important to us that we have their continued support and that we do everything we can to support them.
If you come across a company you support as an NP that is not supporting your organization (regardless of which organization), ask why. As I discuss each year, the relationship with providers and industry is a two way street. NADNP's mission is to bring you companies that support our mission and offer quality medications and products that the board members and colleagues use in our everyday practice. In the end, the provider will decide what is best for their patient based on empirical data, research and education given to them during these educational programs, not for the free pen, sample, or other "give aways" we get at these events.
NADNP would like to give thanks to the following 2014 conference supporters
President's Tea Party: Dermpath Diagnostics
Symposiums: DUSA, Genentech, Abbvie, and Leo
Educational Grant: Actelion
Exhibitors: Dermpath Diagnositics, Hill Dermaceuticals Inc., Calmoseptine Inc., Bio-Oil, Celgene Corporation, Trinity Medical Pharmacy, Allergan, Leo-Pharma, Dusa Pharmaceuticals Inc., Genentech, Zanfel Laboratories Inc., Hawaiian Moon, Galderma Laboratories, Bayer HealthCare, Abbvie, Syneron-Candela Inc., INNOVO Specialty Compounding Solutions, Smith&Nephew, LaRoche-Posay, Stiefel a GSK company, Merz Dermatology , a division of Merz North America, Inc., Derma Sciences, Pharmaceutical Specialties Inc., Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Prestium Pharma Inc., and Florida Nurse Practitioner Network.
Debra Shelby, PhD, DNP, FNP-BC
President and Founder NADNP