Maximize Your Conference with the Ripple Effect

Make the most of your conference with these tips and tricks for your veterinary team!

In addition to providing access to the best and most advanced continuing education training, veterinary conferences can be a great resource for valuable information, and can provide much-needed inspiration for your spirit and your practice’s morale.
However, it’s easy to run out of your busy practice schedule and right into a hectic conference program without properly preparing or organizing for it, while also running at low energy.
That can pose big problems for both you and your veterinary practice. You’re there to learn about better ways to impact pet health, but when you forget about the ways your own health impacts your memory, energy, and attentiveness, it becomes much harder to bring essential information home—and even more impossible to implement it.
There’s no shortage of studies indicating how little details like sleep, diet, and exercise affect your memory and capabilities. One such researcher, Dr. Greg Wells, an assistant professor of kinesiology at the University of Toronto, has spent his career working with Olympic champions to study how even the smallest habit changes can be the difference between the performance of a lifetime and a full-out flop.
While you may not need to run a marathon physically (however much it might feel like it by the time you leave the conference floor), you do need to be ready to run one mentally when you attend veterinary conferences.
With the 2018 conferences coming up quickly, you likely don’t have time to dedicate to researching the little changes you can make to boost your own performance and retention.
We’ve put together this handy guide based on Wells’ book, The Ripple Effect, to give you a back-to-basics look at how you can maximize the time you spend at your next conference—and how much information you can bring back to your patients.

Get Plenty of Sleep

Given the stress and busyness of the animal health industry, it comes as no surprise that getting enough sleep can be a challenge. In fact, according to Wells’ research, over 20% of the population is chronically sleep-deprived.
That doesn’t bode well when it comes to conference season, because sleep is how you stay rested and well—nobody wants to attend a conference with a compromised immune system!
As you probably know, the average adult needs 7.5 hours of sleep every night. So, sleep, already!
Maybe, for a few weeks heading into the conference, it simply means skipping that last Netflix program to maintain a decent bedtime.
Maybe it means you leave that extra bit of work for when you get back, instead of staring at a monitor for hours before bedtime or cramming it in first thing in the morning.
Or maybe it means training your body ahead of time by making incremental adjustments to your schedule to make up for the time difference.
Getting enough sleep helps you retain information better and increases your ability to focus. You won’t only arrive more refreshed, you’ll return home more productive as well. Think about the impact that has on your practice, and multiply it by the number of conferences you and your staff attend.

Plan Ahead to Eat Well

Many veterinary conference-goers have a habit of trading the hearty vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats for sugary treats and fast food come conference time.
As much as high-sugar, high-carbohydrate foods give you a quick burst of energy, they ultimately leave your mind sluggish and your hunger unsatisfied—not the ideal conditions for learning! This can be exacerbated by late-night cocktails with friends and annual meet-ups with old school-mates.
When you’re at a conference, especially if you need to travel far to get there, it can be difficult to find healthy eating options, so plan ahead to avoid the conference junk food slump.
If you’re unfamiliar with the area, do your research. Find nutritious restaurants in the area before you go, ask the hotel what healthy snacks are offered, and scout out a market or store where you can stop en-route to pick up some fresh fruit. And don’t forget to hydrate! Keep a refillable water bottle with you to keep you drinking throughout the day.

Get Moving

So what happens when you’ve slept well, and have eaten well, but you still wake up feeling groggy the morning of an important conference? Move more, and get active!
We’re not saying you must hit the gym or run a mile before you’ve even had your coffee. Going for a few laps around the outskirts of the massive exhibit hall, hunting for that breakout room to do some stretches, or walking back to the hotel instead of taking the shuttle can help improve memory, learning, problem solving and focus. Just remember to carry-on an extra set of walking shoes.
As an added bonus, the endorphins you get from moving give you an extra boost of energy, which can really come in handy when it comes to networking at an industry event!

Be Proactive

Now that you’re aware of just how powerful these small steps can be for implementing big changes, it’s time to schedule some time in your calendar to prepare. If you put these tips to use at your next veterinary conference, who knows, you might just run into the LifeLearn team walking a few laps while you’re there too!

Want more survival tips for the veterinary conference season, and beyond? Check out our veterinary marketing blog!

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