This is the third in a series of articles about steps you can take to optimize your conference and continuing education experiences in 2018. First, we shared tips on preparing for the conference in ways to support both your physical and mental health. Then, we looked at habits that can help you and your team get the most from your investment in continuing education.
Now, we’d like to focus on how you can add to this by taking a more strategic approach to again, optimize all that you do and learn before, during and after this hectic conference season.
Let’s face it. With all the pressure to stay current, acquire new information and network with your peers, attending a conference can actually feel like a marathon. Some marathoners are so seasoned and well trained they can do any kind of run and finish in the top of their class. These disciplined people have something unique to teach us about the strategic approach they take to all aspects of run preparation, plus execution and follow-up.
3 Steps to Creating a CE Strategy
Step 1 – Take Stock
Although it’s definitely part of it, like running a marathon, you aren’t attending conferences just to say you did it – and acquire needed CE credits. It’s also about making an investment in yourself and your practice to do your very best. So, like a marathoner is going to assess their readiness as well as the course ahead, you should do the same to see which conferences will best help you expand your knowledge and ultimately, the care you and your team can offer to clients.
Step 2 – Set Your Goal(s)
The marathoner usually sets a goal for the finish time they want to achieve and will have a strategy in place to achieve this. In addition to arduous training, they’ve likely also polled others that have done the same course, or their trainers and supporters. Ditto for planning your 2018 continuing education strategy. Here are some of the questions and examples of responses to aid your decision-making:
- Goal: Why are you attending? What’s the net-takeaway you’re looking for right now? E.g. Improve pet health outcomes and client retention.
- Objective(s): What has to be done to achieve your goal?g. Increase specialized knowledge in client education X; stay current in latest trends on X treatment; learn more about how pet insurance can help your practice be more profitable; etc.
- Audience: Who do you want to connect with before, during, after conference? E.g. Poll your team to help set priorities on what they need you to bring back; register for the speakers/sessions that will help you achieve your goal.
- How will you achieve each conference objective? E.g. Attend X sessions on X and X; plan a breakfast get together to discuss X; work out or go for a head-clearing walk every day before or perhaps even in place of the usual dinner/drinks
- How will you measure success? E.g. You are able to share what you’ve learned with your team; you’ve filled a knowledge or service gap with new, credible information or technology you can use immediately; you return to the practice energized rather than exhausted;
Step 3 – Plan Your Pace
Like a marathoner, your strategy can help set the pace and optimize how you approach continuing education for the year by helping you to:
- Check in to ensure you’re on course at key points along the way
- Identify if there are specific challenges, gaps or issues that need to be addressed for optimum performance
- Remember the importance of being ‘fit’ – or well-prepared – in all aspects of your life in order to undertake the challenges of acquiring new knowledge and implementing new practices.
While putting together the strategy might feel like more work when you’re already stressed to get things done before being away, it can actually be a time – and life – saver over the long term. After you’ve done it once, you can apply the same approach and often many of the same goals, objectives, etc. to subsequent conferences. In many cases, one cohesive strategy might work for an entire year of investment in continuing education, but it should be looked at frequently to ensure it is continuing to move you and your team toward your continuing education goals.