By Maria DiDanieli
By Maria DiDanieli
The month of September ushers in a new season of seemingly interminable
continuing education (CE) and professional development events in all
industries and professions – chiropractic is no exception. Some or all
of these may offer CE credits, adding to their appeal and inspiring an
urgency to attend.
The month of September ushers in a new season of seemingly interminable continuing education (CE) and professional development events in all industries and professions – chiropractic is no exception. Some or all of these may offer CE credits, adding to their appeal and inspiring an urgency to attend.
But, professionals, including chiropractors, are busy people who may not have time for the full range of conference offerings. Furthermore, attending these events involves expenditures, which can make them cost prohibitive, compounded with having to close up shop for a few days – or arrange for a replacement – while away. Additionally, the need to send staff members for learning events can be seen as a further inconvenience, as this incurs more costs and results in being short-staffed while workers are out.
However, the plain truth is that, in every profession, a good continuing education event – conference, workshop, seminar, lecture or even a webinar – can be a useful investment for a practice/business. These events represent opportunities to enhance one’s knowledge and skill sets, network with colleagues or services that could benefit the practice/business, get away from the office to gain a clearer perspective on challenging issues, and more.
Many writers and speakers present ideas on how to maximize the benefits of conference attendance; these can be found in great numbers on bookshelves and all over the Internet. The goal of this article is to collate some of those ideas and initiate a strategy for DCs who wish to identify, partake in and benefit from the various learning events offered throughout the profession.
How many conferences/CE events should I attend?
If you Google this question, you’ll find a gaggle of answers. In fact, determining the answer for yourself as a doctor – and, if applicable, a practice/business owner – depends on very individualized factors coupled with jurisdictional requirements. Some DCs may be in a position to attend a large number and variety of seminars and/or conferences and greatly enhance their skill sets while developing a well-rounded perspective of the multi-faceted profession of chiropractic. However, most DCs must narrow down the number of events they attend.
Here, are some points to consider when trying to decide what to spend your resources on:
- Where will I find those elements that will best serve my particular practice?
- How many continuing education credits does my jurisdiction require me to achieve, and how many does each particular event offer?
- Which events include meetings of my professional associations/colleges etc?
- In what areas do I wish to enhance my knowledge/skills?
- What new topics do I want to learn about?
In other words, determine exactly what you want to get out of your continuing education experiences in order to calculate how much time, effort and expense you want to put into them. When you have worked this out, you can start searching for the events that you would like to attend.
Where do I find out about conferences/CE events?
Listings of reputable professional education events can be found through provincial and subspecialty association/college websites, the websites of chiropractic schools, or the websites/newsletters of more prominent publications in your field. For DCs, there are a number of reliable sources available in Canada and the United States, and it could be well worth it to check out the information available outside your jurisdiction or group. Visit the websites of different provinces and schools, and those of as many publications as you can think of, in your areas of interest. Talk to other DCs, and see what they’re attending and why. A little research will reveal a roster of events you may not otherwise hear about – it may turn out to be more worthwhile for you to attend one event in another province rather than three that “sound good” because they are closer to home.
Do I take/send my staff?
This will, again, depend on a number of individual factors. Having said that, downplaying your staff members’ desire and ability to contribute to your practice through learning opportunities could result in a disorganized, misinformed or confused back up crew, ultimately costing you more money, time and negative energy, rather than providing the streamlined, patient-centred environment that your practice requires.
At least one opportunity per year should be provided to your staff for professional development. The event you choose to send them to – or take them with you to – will, again, depend on the requirements and focus of your practice and should include break-off sessions specific to CHA training. This gives your CHAs:
- The message that you respect them as professionals
- An opportunity to enrich their understanding of chiropractic and your practice, and
- A chance to meet and network with their own colleagues, compare notes and, perhaps, pick up helpful strategies/ideas that will assist them in their duties and, thus, benefit your practice.
Back at the clinic
This is the part that can make the difference between your conference being a success or a waste of time and money.
About you. When the conference/CE event is over, take time to streamline your thoughts regarding what you’re going to implement into your practice, and what is not appropriate for you and your team. Helter-skelter, emotional implementation of several ideas, without a game plan in mind, is going to result in their ineffectual introduction and/or confusion regarding protocol among your staff.
If executing a new clinical idea, work out how you’re going to implement it before you try it on your patients. Haphazzard “experimenting” could be dangerous to them, or result in confusing them or “putting them off”.
If applicable, meet with staff to fully inform them of your new action so that they understand it. Even if it does not impact their routine, per se, it may affect their understanding of what you do and how they explain this to your patients when asked.
About your staff. If your new strategy requires a change in your staff’s activities, make sure they understand exactly what you want from them, and why. Clarity is the best way to have your CHAs aligned with, and supporting, your practice focus and goals.
If your staff members were also at the conference, listen to the ideas they have collected, and decide, as a team, which ones might be worth developing into a practice strategy. Give them an opportunity to share new concepts with the group, so that they all can learn from each other’s experience. Be prepared to answer questions and educate them further on your practice and chiropractic in general. These teaching sessions will be invaluable to them and will enhance their experience and cohesion as a practice team.
Take the opportunity to formally assess any new strategy (as a team, where applicable) after a trial period which you have set. This does two things:
- It allows you to avoid discarding, too soon, something that could be very effective.
- It avoids dragging on something that you, and/or the team, feel is not working, and gives you an out without anyone feeling as though their ideas were not given their full due.
Any conference or CE event is only as good as its benefit to you, as a practitioner and a person, and to your practice. That benefit could be clinical, administrative, philosophical/therapeutic or network oriented – ideally, it could be a combination of all of the above. All benefits will impact how your patients are cared for. Therefore, do not consider CE or professional development opportunities as trivial extra-curricular events, but as investments in yourself and your practice, and toward optimal care for your patients. Choose events carefully and plan how you will harness them thoughtfully. Upon returning to your practice, strategize which ideas you will implement and how. Only with a systemized approach to your continuing education activities will their benefits truly be realized. •
|Tips on Maximizing the Conference Experience
We have already learned that this process does not begin with the plane ride to where-ever, but that it, in fact, begins well before that. The following tips expand on this concept while considering the days at the event:
Preparation tips: (about a week in advance)