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Gearing up for Conference Season

Spring is conference season for me, and every year I have to make decisions about which conferences I will attend.  How do I make those decisions?  I rank them on their ability to meet my priorities.

When I first started working in the world of birth, conferences were about learning as much as possible.  Attending them energized me (and every other newbie) and refreshed the excitement for working in the birth world.  But that aspect of conferences quickly fades.  I don’t learn very much at conferences anymore – I pretty much have the basics down, and speakers must turn in their outlines months in advance, which means I’ve usually already read any new research that is being talked about.  This happens to everyone, and for many professionals it gives them a bad taste for conferences as a waste of time and money.

My priorities for conferences are a little different now.  If I have an opportunity to present my research, that conference gets priority.  If I have an opportunity to meet and talk with other researchers and leaders who could be part of a collaboration, that conference gets priority.

This year’s conference list begins with the International Confederation of Midwives — not only would I have to wait three years to attend again, but I have been accepted to present a poster.  This makes this conference double priority because I can talk about my research as I network with leaders.

The second conference was a difficult decision, do I attend AWHONN (a group for MCH nurses) or Academy Health (a group for policy researchers)?  I decided to go with AWHONN.  The timing was a little better, and the connections I could make for research have a better chance of being focused on prevention effectiveness  in reproductive health.  Also, AWHONN has a mentored leadership position that I would love to participate in.  My local meetings are always scheduled when I have class, so if I am going to get involved I have to step up at conference.

I am also attending a conference just for fun.  Christian Midwives International is a group I’ve participated with for several years.  Many of the members are friends, and I enjoy the opportunity to relax and catch up. It also gives me an opportunity to give back to the birth community.  I don’t go to network and spread my research, instead I use the opportunity to help continue the education for midwives working ‘in the trenches.’

So, that is my spring conference schedule.  Maybe I’ll see you at one.

 

 

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Jennifer Vanderlaan CNM MPH is the author of the BirthingNaturally.net website. She has been working with expectant families since 2000, training doulas, childbirth educators, and midwives. She has worked with midwives in Central America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Her interest in public health grew in 2010, and she is now a PhD student learning to become a producer of knowledge.

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