Is the National Conference Worth it?
I am neurotic when it comes to collecting CEU credits. In the 13 months that I have been licensed, I have accrued 503
Continuing Education Hours.
As I sit here at the Suncoast Pulmonary Symposium in Ft. Myers, I feel as though I must follow up on a post that I made last year. I had posted a blog expressing concern that the AARC was charging too much for the International Congress. Nevertheless, I did end up attending the conference and felt as though I had gotten a good quality conference for that few thousand dollar investment (hotel, registration, airfare, food).
Today while attending this state level conference and collecting another 15 CEU hours, I begin to think about the New Orleans conference that is coming up here in a couple of months. Luckily, this time I will have the great benefit of my hospital paying up to $2000 of the bill. That being said, I instantly started trying to compare the "price" versus "value" of the state conference versus the national conference. With the benefit of now having a full year in the business and having attended 4 conferences, I asked myself if I would be attending the New Orleans AARC Conference if I was going to have to pay the bill. (Keep in mind that I do not "need" the CEUs as I have 10 times the number that I need to get between now and 2016.)
I wish I could tell you that I would not go. I wish that I could tell you that the national AARC conference is "not worth it" and you would better spend your money at a state level conference. But, I cannot tell you that. My honest opinion is that trying to compare the two is literally like comparing apples and oranges.
Considering that most people are not neurotic about CEUs like I am, I would respectfully submit that one can make the argument that a state level conference is more than adequate for what is needed. (Actually, considering that a lot of therapists can't be bothered to hardly even do the bare minimum CEU requirements, I would submit that a state level conference for some people would seem like going back through a degree program.) A state level conference allows you to meet your state requirements for CEUs and also gives you networking opportunities with others in your region and state associations.
The national AARC Conference is for those who LOVE respiratory therapy. At the national level conference, you will get a lot more education that can even be processed over several weeks. One critique that I had of the AARC last year was the fact that they wanted an additional $250 for the recordings of the classes. Not only would they not allow you to bring your own personal pocket recorder, but they also wanted a whopping $250 to sell you recordings of classes that you had already shelled out a few thousand dollars to attend. To the AARC's credit, this year all attendees will receive this benefit at no additional charge. For that, I say THANK YOU. There are so many class choices at the national conference that you always miss out on a few classes that overlap with others. So, the fact that you will now have access to all of them even after you leave New Orleans is a great benefit.
So, in closing, I would encourage everyone to attend something. Even if you only go to one conference every two or three years, at least do that. But, if you go five years and never attend a conference, then I would respectfully ask you to evaluate if you really and truly love this industry. (While I fully understand that everyone is not as fortunate enough to work for a hospital that pays for the whole trip, I would respectfully submit that the average salary of our industry DOES allow for every one of us to attend at least a state level conference every year or two.)
Trust me, you will NEVER regret going to the national level conference (even on your own dime). Also, you will never regret going to a state level conference either.