“I am eternally grateful for the networking opportunities and relationships established at the conference that will inevitably carry throughout my professional career.” – Courtney Pawlowski, RN
The AAPACN annual conference is just around the corner, and we have a great line-up of speakers to educate and motivate you. Over the years, I’ve heard many members express they’d love to attend, but a lack of resources holds them back. It may be the person is unable to afford time away or doesn’t have the financial resources needed. To help you overcome that challenge, here are a few talking points to consider when trying to gain support for this year’s conference and/or preconference attendance from your director of nursing (DNS) or administrator:
1. This year’s conference educational sessions hit on several key topics impacting long-term care. By attending them, you will gain information and tips to help improve current systems and processes. For example, there is a session on how to conduct a triple check under PDPM. Attending this session will help you ensure proper billing occurs. There is also a session on the legal risks of care planning. Attending this session can help ensure your care plans are accurate and person-centered. There is also a session on myths NACs have been hearing for years, taught by Jessie McGill, RN, RAC-MT, RAC-MTA, which can help you find the truths about MDS coding, Medicare regulations, and clinical reimbursement you and your peers have been missing. Review the sessions on the schedule and discuss why and how these topics are of value to your organization.
2. At conference this year, you can attend an in-person version of the ICD-10 certificate program. Proper ICD-10 coding is paramount to ensuring accurate reimbursement. Obtaining this certificate can provide the knowledge you need to ensure you are following coding requirements so that reimbursement captured is able to withstand future audits. This in-person version of the program is also a special chance to meet and hear Carol Maher’s expertise and ask her questions.
3. The conference is a great place to network with other long-term care professionals. Finding a network of professional friends that you can call upon to help you during difficult times, such as during the Oct. 1 MDS changes, and can help to lift a heavy burden. Not only do professional friends provide support and encouragement, they can also help you to problem solve by providing examples of how they improved or overcame common issues like when to complete an Interim Payment Assessment (IPA) or figuring out skilled Medicare. Explain to your DNS how this could have helped during a recent struggle you were challenged with.
4. Education and tenure are closely linked. Organizations that invest in their staff have higher retention rates. They are also organizations with better outcomes, which makes sense because educated staff who know how to do the right thing are the ones who stay. Express to your DNS that you would feel more valued within your organization by being provided this great learning opportunity.
I know we all hope that our organization will pay for us to attend conference, but sometimes you must make a deal. If you find that your DNS or administrator is prohibiting you from attending even after going over the above talking points, consider bargaining with your organization so that you can split the difference. In the past, my employer didn’t allow travel outside of the state and wouldn’t pay for registration; however, they did agree to allow me to attend without taking vacation time. Another year, they agreed to pay for my meals and half of my hotel costs if I came back and shared the information at a leadership meeting. I still had to pay for registration and travel, but I viewed this as an investment in my career. I also used the time at conference to build a solid network of LTC friends. I’ve had to call on those friends many times over the years and with their support and guidance, the return on my initial investment has been huge.
If after laying out why conference and/or preconference education is of value to the organization and they still say no, then do it for you. A few years ago, when I made the decision to obtain my graduate degree, people asked why I would do this so late in my career. My response was simple—I am doing it for me. I am investing in me, in my future. I haven’t been disappointed. The knowledge gained has made me a more competent nurse.