This is my third year attending the American Association of Diabetes Educator’s annual conference… and I’m not even a CDE yet!
The first two years I was lucky enough to attend on behalf of my previous employer, DiabetesMine, and this year I was able to wrangle a trip thanks to three things: 1) it’s free to attend if you go as Press (which a blogger is); 2) I live three hours away from Philly by car, so I’m driving and only have to pay for gas and parking; and 3) I’m blessed to have friends like Kelley Champ Crumpler who is letting me stay with her!
This is likely to be the last AADE conference I attend for awhile, as the next several conferences are all several states away. So I’m ready to soak up the learnin’ as I head into my own career as a diabetes educator!
I find that many conferences can have a lot of repeated information, both in sessions and in the exhibit hall, so I don’t necessarily advocate going to conferences every year just for educational purposes. The main benefit I get out of going is being able to discuss real life situations with diabetes educators, pharmaceutical and diabetes company representatives, and of course, get a little bit of in-real-life love from my fellow DOC peeps! All of those make diabetes conferences totally worthwhile!
It’s been a year since I attended a diabetes conference so I suspect I will hear some new factoids and meet lots of new folks at the same time. I recommend attending one to two diabetes conferences a year, and your best bet is to pick conferences that have different speakers and topics. Speakers often use the same material from one conference to the next, so while you might want to see them again, research simply doesn’t move fast enough to make their presentations brand new.
(Unless, of course, it’s Ed Damiano. You’re more than welcome to listen to him over and over and over…)
That being said, if you are going to connect with other patients, then by all means, go to as many as you can! I’m lucky enough to know a lot of PWDs in real life, but I think that if I was in a more isolated location, I would probably want to attend more meet-ups and conferences.
What are some good conferences? I’m so glad you asked!
— CWD’s Friends for Life should be at the top of everyone’s list. Not only does it have stellar educational opportunities with world-class experts, you’ll also meet 3,000 of the most amazing people on the planet. And it’s at Walt Disney World. I mean, really, what more do you want? This is the next best thing to a cure.
— DiabetesSister’s Weekend for Women is a unique take on diabetes conferences because it really hones in on how diabetes affects women’s issues, like pregnancy, sex, relationships. Although there are some more general diabetes info sessions, everything is really geared to the essence of a woman. And as a woman, I appreciate that.
— The AADE conference is probably my favorite professional conference. I enjoy it because the sessions are more geared toward clinical practice, rather than scientific research which is the bread and butter of ADA’s Scientific Sessions. I get that some people love that stuff (and it’s important too!) but I have trouble understanding the nitty-gritty science so it’s not really my bag. Some of the sessions are about the “business of being a CDE” but in general I find it interesting to hear what CDEs are learning. However, the only way to go as a non-healthcare professional is to go as Press, as I mentioned. It’s free, which is awesome, but if you don’t plan on blogging about the conference, it might be difficult to get in.
— JDRF Research Summits are a great local resource for folks as well. I know not every chapter has them, but I have seen them grow a bit more state-by-state, so I would contact your local chapter to see if they have something coming up. If not, you might suggest starting one. I know places like Austin, Las Vegas and Washington D.C. have hosted Research Summits, and the one I went to in D.C. was really great! There were speakers that I had never heard before, which, as I mentioned, is something I highly recommend looking for.
Okay, I’m off to Philadelphia! I’ll be back with lots of news (and maybe a giveaway or two) next week!