1. Gould, Kathleen Ahern PhD, RN

Article Content

Professional organizations and education conferences always provide nurses with new information and knowledge. Moreover, they consistently encourage us to learn and grow in unimaginable ways. These encounters often provide the spark that ignites change.


Recently, the 2016 American Association of Critical Care Nurses National Teaching Institute hosted more than 8000 attendees in New Orleans, some staying for the entire week, others for a few days. Hundreds of sessions were offered, including many at the Critical Care Exposition, where more than 300 vendors from medical industry showcased practice and technology innovations. In addition, many colleges and universities presented unique programs, highlighting many avenues toward undergraduate nursing, accelerated programs, advanced practice roles, and programs such as master's in public health and administration. Distance learning, hybrid curriculums, and traditional programs offered impressive options.


Expert speakers, authors, and leaders engaged with participants throughout the week. The conference offered opportunities for many types of learning and networking. The schedule contained familiar names and topics. However, many new topics reflect a new work order-big data-innovations in advanced practice roles-successful models to improve quality and safety-and advances in evidence-based practice.


Awards and recognition programs promote sharing stories about successful unit projects and individual accomplishments. These are often the most inspiring sessions, sending nurses home with ideas to transform their own units.


Professional conferences offer a venue to connect with old friends and colleagues and meet new people with new ideas! This year's National Teaching Institute did not disappoint; the energy was contagious as each presentor promoted the theme of "Courageous Care" throughout the week.


Many sessions continue to run on the association Web site, allowing attendees to review sessions, view additional sessions, and share lectures with colleagues who were not able to attend. This enhanced learning opportunity is unique and timely, as busy schedules often compete with real-time learning. This option encourages the learner to review and digest information at an altered pace, after the conference.


Attending a professional educational conference is a gift, one you should give yourself whenever possible. Begin planning your next one today!