Attending professional conferences is a great way to make new connections, learn about new legislation and/or programs, learn about new technology, and get continuing education credits required for licensure renewal. Learning about employment opportunities throughout the country, catching up with colleagues, and making new connections are all added benefits! Industry leaders throughout the country are in attendance and/or presenting.
1. Keep Learning
Even if you are still a student and don’t need CEUs yet, attending seminars at the conference can be a great way to explore areas you have clinical interests in. No matter what you’re interested in, the conference features seminars to suit everyone’s interest. Seminar topics fall under the following categories:
Academy of Acute Care PT
Academy of Aquatic Physical Therapy
Academy of Clinical Electrophysiology and Wound Management
Academy of Geriatric PT
Academy of Hand and Upper Extremity PT
Academy of Neurologic PT
Academy of Orthopedic PT
Academy of Pediatric PT
Academy of PT Education
Federal PT Section
Home Health Section
Private Practice Section
Section on Health Policy & Administration
Section on Research
Section on Women’s Health
Sports PT Section
Each seminar lasts approximately 2 hours and a schedule can be found on the CSM website under programming. I recommend reading through this thoroughly before you arrive so you can decide which seminars you want to attend and locate them more easily. If you find yourself sitting in a seminar for 15-20 minutes and are not interested, you can hop into a different seminar instead!
I’m looking forward to attending some seminars on Global Health this year so I can get my international PT feet wet! What will you dive into this year?
Don’t worry, if you’re a hands-on learner like I am, you’ll have plenty of time to have fun trying out new equipment in the exhibit hall! Last years’ highlight for me was running on the AlterG treadmill and playing with some of the myofascial/manual therapy tools. You’ll also score lots of free goodies!
2. Enhance Your Resume
Professional involvement is so important and is valued by many employers. As a traveler, it can be hard to get time off mid-contract. However, I have never had difficulty getting the time off to attend a professional conference. They see the value in attending the conference. Last year, I gave a short in-service summarizing the key Medicare billing changes that were discussed in a few of the seminars I attended once I returned.
Attending the APTA conference is a great way to demonstrate your commitment to the profession of Physical Therapy and get ahead in your career while you’re at it!
I list conference attendance under the “Professional Involvement” section at the bottom of my resume.
Conferences can be a great way to network! Whether you are a current student, new graduate, or tenured therapist, you can never know too many people in the industry. Attending the conference gives you the ability to network with therapists, educators, and hiring managers. With 12,000 attendees anticipated, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals.
There will be several employers with booths in the exhibit hall. If you are actively seeking employment, it’s not a bad idea to bring a copy of your resume. If you meet a recruiter you want to provide your resume to, ensure that they do not submit your resume for consideration to any job without your explicit permission first! Most booths will want to collect your contact information for marketing purposes. It’s up to you if you want to provide it or not.
In the evenings, there are meetups and other sponsored events! Wind-down after the conference in D.C. with like-minded individuals! If you are interested in traveling or currently traveling, check out the Facebook group to stay up-to-date on events happening for travelers.
Most 3 day continuing education courses will cost anywhere from $550-$850. As a student APTA member, you can attend the conference for a reduced rate of $390. If you are not a student, but are an APTA member, the conference will run you $740. By attending all the seminars, you can receive 18 continuing education units! That’s at least 1 years’ worth of CEUs in most states! In addition to all these CEUs, you’ll have the opportunity to score lots of free swag, network, attend sponsored event, and explore Washington D.C. Finally, with the new tax code, you can no longer deduct professional expenses. If you have to pay for your professional expenses out-of-pocket, it’s important to look at the overall value of the opportunity since you can no longer deduct it on your taxes.
5. Bonus – Learn More About Travel Therapy!
Not only can you learn about travel therapy by visiting different booths in the exhibit hall, but you can participate in events sponsored for both current travelers & those interested in traveling. This is a great avenue to connect with like-minded people and enhance your nomadic support system. Last year, we had about 3 events that were traveler specific and it was a blast! Meeting and talking with recruiters face-to-face is refreshing. In an industry where pretty much everything is done over the phone, it is rare for most travelers to ever meet their recruiter in person. I’m very fortunate to have met my go-to recruiters at conferences and am excited to reconnect this year in D.C.!
If talking to recruiters in person is a priority for you, this is the best avenue to do that. As a fair warning to anyone who has not been to a conference, be prepared to be overwhelmed! There are A TON of staffing agencies at these conferences. They all seem to offer similar benefits. Follow your gut and make sure you have an experienced traveler to serve as a mentor before diving in too deep! This is an amazing community that has been built by tenured travelers helping novice travelers.
Can't attend CSM this year, but need CEU credits! Save 40% on an annual MedBridge subscription using promo code travel2grow.
Need a recruiter you can trust? Click here to connect with mine!