Headed to Chicago for the Urgent Care Association of America National Urgent Care Convention? If you want to make the most of your time away from the hustle and bustle of your urgent care clinic (and who wouldn’t?), check out our must-read tips for making the most of your 2015 UCAOA experience.
Before You Go
- Select Staff to Attend
Be intentional about who you choose to send to the convention. If you want to improve a certain role or process, select the people involved to go. Consider rotating staff from different roles to attend annual conventions, so ideally someone from each section of your clinic is represented. A fun idea? Buy an extra ticket, and hold a competition at your clinic to win the spot. Can’t make it? Check out the virtual exhibit hall instead.
- Choose Your Sessions Wisely
OK, so there aren’t any “bad” sessions at UCAOA. But picking from among all the sessions can be overwhelming. Divide and conquer with your fellow colleagues. Review education options beforehand. Decide who will attend what, so you can cover more ground—and learn more. In addition to tag teaming, diversify topics and don’t be afraid to attend a session that’s not in your area of expertise. You’re there to learn, right?
- Select Exhibitors to Visit
But it’s not all about sessions. Make time to visit the exhibition floor to see what’s new in urgent care. If you have certain goals to accomplish, list those in your calendar so you remember to visit the exhibitors you want. If you have a list of exhibitors to visit in mind, check out their websites ahead of time and think of questions to ask. Also, see if you can schedule a personal meeting while you’re at the convention.
While You’re There
- Take Action-item Notes and Participate in Sessions
Make the most of presentations. Laptops are easier than smart phones for extensive note-taking, but bring what works best for you. Take notes purposely, separating action items for your clinic from general comments or advice. Participate and ask questions in sessions; the worst question is the one you don’t ask. Try to speak with the presenter before or after the session if you want to meet them directly.
- Make Connections and Attend Social Events
Not all of us are the life of the party. In fact after a day of learning, you are probably tempted to put your feet up in your hotel room, and chat with your family on the phone. Take the time to attend social events to network with others in your industry—this is the perfect time to experience culture, food and drinks, and meet new people who share the same passion as you. Don’t forget to check out events hosted by exhibitors, too.
- Use the Conference App (and Your Favorite Apps)
Stay up to date with the UCAOA Convention app. Download it to your smart phone to learn more about the schedule, presentations, speakers, and exhibitors. The app includes slide decks from the presentations, too, so you can take notes or draw right on the presentation. Share info with other attendees and colleagues with in-app messaging, tweeting, and emailing. Don’t forget to use your favorite note-taking apps, too. Use #UCAOA15 on Twitter.
- Have Your Schedule and a Map Handy (but Be OK with Deviating from Them)
Well, it’s not your first day at school, but you don’t want to get lost. Keep yourself on track by having your schedule and a map handy. Set reminders in your smart phone for 10 minutes before each session. But if you meet someone or see something interesting, don’t be afraid to deviate (get free exhibitor swag, enter drawings, or grab a drink!) if it’s worthwhile. Pro-tip: Wear comfortable shoes and keep snacks on hand to get you through the day.
When You Get Back
- Link with Connections (And Yes, Send a Note Afterward)
Make a new acquaintance? Save their business card or look them up online. Connect with them on LinkedIn or follow them on Twitter. Send them a note to say hello after the convention. You never know when a connection will come in handy, and starting a relationship now can give you the building blocks to a stronger network. Consider joining the professional organizations that new contacts are part of.
- Take Training Back to Your Practice
The money question. What did you learn? This is what every boss wants to know when you come back. Be prepared to present the information you’ve learned. Categorize topics to share if you are responsible for dispersing information to staff upon return—and set expectations for your role before you attend the convention. That way, you can record the right info while there.
- Ask for Follow-up Info from Vendors
See something that caught your eye? Don’t be shy. Ask exhibitors to follow up with you—or at least grab their contact information, so you can reach out once you get back home. Exhibitors are more than willing to share general industry information too if you have educational-type questions. Most have been in the industry awhile, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and take advantage of their urgent care expertise.
Finally, make sure you’ve packed your suitcase for Chicago weather in the spring. Who knows what that can bring? Sweaters, scarves, short-sleeves, and galoshes maybe? Layers are always good. While you’re in the Windy City, mark down a few sites to see and restaurants to visit. Deep-dish pizza is highly recommended. After all, your UCAOA experience is really up to you. Are you ready to get the most out of it?
Have your own tips for attending the UCAOA Convention? Share them with us.