Plan ahead to use your time and resources wisely.


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Attending a nursing conference is an investment in your career. Use the following tips to get the most out of it-and of your travel dollars.

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Look for conferences that meet your needs. Sign up for conference mailing lists so you can find conferences with topics and speakers that interest you. Look for conferences with a long list of exhibitors and well-known speakers. Talk with people who've attended prior conferences and compare prices, including travel expenses.


If you're interested in gaining continuing education (CE) credits, note the total number offered and how many are offered for each conference day. Is the CE provider well known and reputable? Will the schedule let you reach your CE credit goals? Is the conference accredited by the American Nurses Credentialing Center or by a credentialing center specific to your CE requirements?


Look for discounts. Check the conference brochure or Web site for early registration or study discounts. Also look for other special savings, such as theme park discounts. Consider sharing a room with a colleague. Or plan a personal or family vacation around the event to increase the overall value of your trip.


Plan your days at the start of the conference. After you register, review the entire program book. If multiple sessions are offered, review the descriptions, outlines, and handouts, then make your plans.


Network with other participants at the conference. Make a point of meeting new people from across the country, discussing your work and career goals, and sharing contact information. Read their name badges and address participants by name; this is a nice way to break the ice.


Invite other attendees to join you for a meal. You'll learn a lot about nursing by making new friends.


Talk to exhibitors. Make an effort to ask exhibitors about new products and services. You'll gain a wealth of information.


Give feedback to the conference hosts. Use the evaluation forms and talk with the programmers. Your honest feedback helps improve future conferences.