My first annual conference was in Washington D.C. in 2008, just nine months after taking on the job of being an inpatient diabetes educator. I was still learning how to do my job by myself without another educator at my facility. I needed to learn! And I did.
In a preconference session, I learned more about inpatient education. In sessions, I learned about medications, research, emerging technologies, standards of care, and interacting with people with diabetes. On the exhibitor floor, I learned about products and services from our industry that I had no idea existed. I learned about AADE’s Research and Education Foundation and ways to help support their mission. I learned who those amazing people were that I kept asking questions of online, who never made me feel dumb for asking while I was learning. I learned about members like Evan Sisson, who’s medication book (which he signed!) lived in my lab coat pocket for a year and what a huge resource AADE had in its expert members in the field of diabetes education. In the general sessions, I learned about the journey our leaders take and extraordinary educators’ accomplishments. In the evening events, I learned that AADE partners with some amazing organizations leading the way in giving families of children with diabetes time to connect and empower themselves. At the annual business meeting, I learned what my professional organization was all about and how it could help me even more than the American Nurses Association. And I learned that if you get up to the mic and make a suggestion for mentors for those first-time attendees that an AADE staff member from the Member Engagement and Volunteer department is going to come down to the audience and start talking to you about volunteer plans for the future.
I have been to many conferences since that first one in Washington D.C., missing only a couple due to pregnancy and a new baby (Atlanta when 7 months pregnant is a little hard). Health care is an ever-changing environment and as healthcare providers, we always keep learning. From new modalities of providing cost-effective DSMES, like shared medical appointments to understanding how the shift to outcomes-based payments and population health are changing how we practice. From learning how to use Twitter effectively in connecting and learning from those with the lived experience of having diabetes to understanding how peer support in the college years can enhance a young person’s life and their ability to make the most of their college experience and learn. And still learning how AADE has created an amazing, one-stop shop resource for members to understand all information relating to diabetes technology.
And now I still look forward to the annual conference to learn. But as a previous COI leader, CB leader, Member Affiliate’s Liaison, and now Board of Directors member, I get to learn about you. I still go to sessions to learn about your research and work in diabetes education, but I find myself focused on learning about you. Making more connections, networking, learning what you need from your professional organization, learning your stories and how you have made a difference in the lives of those with or affected by diabetes, learning how you want to be a larger part of AADE in a volunteer role. And, learning how now it is my turn to give back to that novice educator with nine months of experience (and others who like my topic) and create content and be a speaker or have a poster to help others learn. But the main thing I learn from attending the annual conference is that nursing is my discipline, but diabetes education, management, and support is my passion.
Hope to see you in Houston at AADE19