Phew! I made it home and so did my luggage (I had to open the expander, but it made weight). I’m unpacked and nearly caught up with laundry. ASHA13 was a blast!
I really enjoy all sorts of continuing ed and regularly attend seminars and conventions (ASHA or my state), but there are some marked differences between the two and unless you’re really just trying to cross off CEUcredits, you need to know which will best suit your needs.
ASHA or State Convention
- There are lots of different topics available, sometimes on very niche issues that wouldn’t make sense, or be cost effective, for an entire seminar.
- If you realize ten minutes into a session that it isn’t what you expected or that the speaker is so dry you’ll be nodding off if you stick around, you can simply hop up and move to another session. At ASHA, you can follow the Twitter feed to find out where the good stuff is happening.
- Go with a friend and you can double the amount of information you receive (though your credits stay the same). It’s a certainty that you will find some times slots overflowing with sessions your dying to hear—split up the work.
- It’s also a certainty that some time slots will have no compatible sessions to your interests. No worries, head to the exhibit hall! The exhibit hall at ASHA requires you to set aside a decent chunk of time, but even the state vendors are worth a look. This is an outstanding opportunity to see new products, have someone walk you through scoring on a new assessment tool, or find resources for referral in your area. And don’t forget the giveaways—you won’t need new pens for a year!
- Networking is a huge opportunity, especially at ASHA when participants are staying in the area for a few days. You can meet up at the ASHA sponsored events or join smaller groups like the #SLPeeps at dinner. You’ll get more information, recommendations and camaraderie than you thought possible, and head home reinvigorated about the profession.
- Though there is tremendous variety in topics some of them are really off the wall. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t get a lot of clients who stutter who only speak Swahili.
- The sessions are short! Unless you pony up for a short course, the sessions are 30min-2 hrs. Sometimes I feel like we’re just getting started! There was one session I caught on “Alternatives to Auditory Processing Intervention: Content Area & Disciplinary-Specific Strategies” that I would have happily sat in all day. I felt the same way about “Elevator Speeches: Get the Word Out! Advocating for Your Profession, Yourself, Your Clients.”
- There can be, for better or worse, a lot of anonymity at a big conference. If you want to network, you’ll need to put yourself out there otherwise you’re one person in a very large sea. I think I saw that ASHA broke records this year with over 14,000 attendees!
- You can really delve into a topic at a seminar and the sales literature is usually very specific as to what will be covered.
- Seminars move around quite a bit and you might get to see one of the stars of our profession in a smaller setting that allows one-on-one interaction at some point. Yes, I’ve asked for autographs.
- Seminars tend to be more clinically based, rather than strictly research, so you will usually find yourself implementing new techniques, maybe even materials, the day you get back.
- Seminars tend to have more participatory components. You might get to try out techniques on other therapists, write plans/goals, or play a “patient” yourself.
- Keep your eyes peeled and you can attend something very close to home, even if you don’t live in a metro area. This can cut down on costs substantially.
- If you’ve made a bad decision, you’re pretty much stuck. Get a cup of caffeinated coffee, try to muddle through awake and ask a lot of questions. Some speakers will improve with participant interaction and at least you’ll get some of the info you were looking to find.
- You can get quite a few hours in with a one or two day seminar (often six to twelve credits), but nothing beats ASHA where, with stamina and focus, you could probably knock out close to the thirty you need. You need to consider travel costs, but seminars are usually more pricey/hour.
- Some seminars have a bit of a cult-like feel. If you’ve drunk the Kool-Aid yourself, that’s fine, but if you’re a dissenter and question the theory….you might find the room gets a little chilly. Oops.
Again, I like both opportunities for what they can offer me. I’m back from my third ASHA in a row and plan to attend a Lindamood session in late January. What about you? Any preference, and why?