In this year of COVID-19, professional nurse practitioner (NP) conferences look a little different.
NPs have long understood that conferences are key events for professional development, continuing education (CE) and networking — that’s why the American Association of Nurse Practitioners® (AANP) regularly hosts more than 5,000 attendees at its annual conference. However, with ongoing efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19, many conferences planned for 2020 have pivoted to an online model.
This includes AANP’s national conference, which has been reimagined as the AANPconnect online conference experience. Designed to ensure the safety of AANP members, employees, guests, exhibitors and health care professionals, AANPconnect preserves many of the conference activities NPs already enjoy in an innovative, online format.
In-person Conference vs. Online Conference
Just what is the difference between an in-person conference and an online conference? Luckily, with advancements in technology, the conference experience is similar either way!
If an educational webinar or online course delivers CE content on one topic, the online conference model expands this to a broader range of topics, with multiple sessions and speakers similar to that of an in-person conference. Online conferences often also include keynote speeches, networking opportunities, poster sessions, award ceremonies and other special events — just as one may encounter at an AANP national conference.
Whereas an in-person conference may require airfare, long travel days and hotel accommodations, an online conference can be completed wherever there is a secure internet connection, such as one’s home, office or even on the go with a mobile device. This can result in reduced costs, increased convenience and more flexibility for attendees. Online conferences are also perfect for social distancing, as they allow for virtual introductions, discussion and socialization — no face mask required.
Plan ahead for the live events: There are more than 55 on-demand CE sessions available at AANPconnect, but there are also special sessions presented live or at a designated time! This includes a discussion on race, equity and inclusion in health care; a panel exclusively for NP students; a keynote speech from Katie Duke; and a fireside chat with the U.S. Surgeon General, among others. While attendees will have access to the recorded session after the event concludes, you can only ask questions and join the conversation if you’re available and engaged during the live event. Be sure to add the live events you want to attend to your calendar and set a reminder so you arrive on time and ready to participate.
Join the networking forums: To facilitate networking and provide you with opportunities to chat with NPs and NP students from across the country — and the world —AANPconnect offers two discussion forums: a general Attendee Forum and a Student Forum. Within these forums, you have a dedicated space to send messages to your colleagues, respond to interesting posts from your fellow attendees, discuss your favorite CE sessions and share practice pearls or fun stories. Plus, in the Student Forum, all NP students are welcome to discuss issues specifically impacting your lives and connect with select AANP mentors, Fellows and leaders.
Check your email: When you register for AANPconnect, not only will you receive a confirmation email with details about the online conference, but you will also receive a digital conference guide, be notified when the two discussion forums open and receive a bi-monthly conference newsletter to keep you informed of upcoming live presentations, special events and featured speakers and sessions. If your confirmation email ends up in your SPAM, be sure to whitelist the address so you receive all important communication from AANP!
Reduce distractions: An online conference like AANPconnect offers much flexibility: You can determine when to complete the on-demand sessions on your own schedule, you can view the sessions in comfortable clothing — or even from your couch — and you can easily take as much time between sessions as you need to digest the content or reflect on your notes. However, you may also be more likely to encounter distractions, such as the dog barking, notifications on your mobile device, questions from family members and the call of social media. It can be helpful to create an environment similar to that of an in-person conference for yourself at home by setting up an email auto-reply message, limiting push notifications on your mobile device or computer and setting your cellphone to do-not-disturb mode.
Don’t forget you have almost four months of complete access to AANPconnect: The beauty of AANPconnect is that, with one registration fee, you have access to the online conference from September 10 until December 31, 2020. That’s nearly four months of access to CE, practice support, exhibitors, NP networking, legislative updates and more! This allows you plenty of time to select the topics that interest you — or you could even take all 55 on-demand sessions, view the more than 100 poster presentations, explore all the exhibitor pages and attend the industry product theaters. Your AANPconnect conference experience is completely customizable based upon your needs and goals.
The Best Place Online for NP Learning and Networking
AANPconnect is the ultimate opportunity for NPs to earn up to 60 contact hours of CE credit* and find the relationship-building experiences AANP conferences are known for — completely online. See the complete list of sessions, start planning your live events and register today to access the conference as soon as it opens on September 10.
Following AANP on social media is a great way to connect with other NPs and industry professionals, to stay current with the latest health care news and to receive conference announcements — and to share how you are enjoying AANPconnect!
Are you earning CE from your hammock? Are you on a boat or by the pool? What are you enjoying most about your online conference experience? Post a photo on social media using #AANPconnect and tag @AANP_News on Twitter or Instagram to share your unique or interesting conference surroundings with colleagues.