In the current era of aesthetic medicine, it seems as if there is an industry-related conference popping up every month. With brochures and online invitations packed with useful information, it might become cumbersome and confusing to choose which to attend. In addition, you have also noticed many of the same physicians and presenters lecture at many different conferences. The question becomes: Which conference(s) should I attend?
To make a wise decision, many variables come into play. They may include, but are not necessarily limited to: Networking, cost and expense, positioning yourself as an expert, CME credit, content, vendor and exhibitions selection, location, scheduling, speakers, and lastly, having fun! These items may not only guide you to attend, but also may guide you against attending.
One of the most important facets of attending a conference is knowing what you'll get out of it by leaving your office. It becomes a “What's in it for me?” scenario, as well as a value-added proposition. In other words, it should be a win/win for you every step of the way. Remember, there will always be another conference next month.
Let's look at the conference selection process in some more detail.
Dr. Rich Castellano, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and medical director of Imagelift in Tampa, FL, says, “Ongoing training is the most important key to a successful office staff. Once or twice weekly we spend time with our team to train and update. And no matter how much we tell our team, it always seems to have more impact when they are told something by someone who is from outside our office.” Dr. Castellano also goes on to say, “My kids are the same way. Mom and Dad tell them something and they roll their eyes or drag their feet. Yet a coach or a teacher tells them the same thing, and they are excited about it!”
I remember a few years ago when I was the practice administrator for a large dermatology, cosmetic, and plastic surgery practice in suburban Ft. Lauderdale, FL, where I told my staff of 21 employees that if they passed a certain aesthetic certification program, I would close the office for a week and take them all to Las Vegas for an annual conference. This was an intense motivational tool; they all worked together to learn the materials and passed with flying colors. We all went to the conference, and the staff came back charged and ready to rock the world.
Many of the other attendees asked me why I spent so much money (over $30,000 in expenses) to take my staff away, and my answer was quite simple. “I didn't spend any money. I invested in our practice where it paid back tenfold.” It was a short-term investment for a long-term gain.
Does the conference you're looking for allow you and specific employees the ability to network with other professionals in the industry? Does it allow you and your staff to understand and increase the technology in your practice? This can include EMR, new equipment and lasers, and new online programs.
Many items go into the expense of attending a conference, especially if it is out of town. Remember, there's registration, meals, travel expenses to and from the conference, airport parking, rental vehicles or public transportation if a hotel shuttle is not available, lodging, tips, and whatever materials you may purchase at the conference.
POSITIONING YOURSELF AS AN EXPERT
When you attend many conferences and are seen by high-level industry decision makers, you develop a reputation as an industry expert. This can lend itself to having you write for industry publications and serve as a conference speaker. We all like to associate ourselves with successful experts in our industry. Keep yourself in front of an audience and be well recognized as a go-to person.
Most states and specialty boards have requirements that mandate a specific amount of Continuing (Medical) Education credits over a specific amount of time in order to renew your license and board certification. Attending industry conferences affords you the ability to gain these credits.
This is one of the most important reasons to attend a specific conference. Does the content relate to your practice? What separates this conference from all of the others? If you are considering performing a new procedure or looking for additional skincare lines to carry, this may be the opportunity to seek out expert opinion, look at all of the various competitive equipment, and ask other colleagues for their recommendations and advice.
This may be the time for you to make your best deals. After all, there's always a show special. This may be the time to take advantage of the bargains. With all of the new products and skincare lines entering the industry, you have the ability to walk away with a plethora of samples to try in your practice, giving you the ability to make solid informed decisions with a negotiated price structure. (Hint: we always recommend that you don't strike a deal that day. Think about your decision, go back soon after the show. Vendors are typically more than happy to give you that same show special.)
The conference dates have to coincide with your schedule's availability to allow you to take the time away from your office. After all, there is a loss of revenue to your practice or spa when you are not there, assuming you are one of the providers. If you have other physicians, midlevel practitioners and/or aestheticians who can generate revenue in your absence, this can be an added benefit.
We all want to attend a conference where relevant content can make the time away from the office worthwhile. Attending just another conference without walking away with something to bring back is not worth the time (or money) spent. Look up speakers that have peaked your interest, added a special motivational spark, or delivered the content in such a way that really educated and amused you.
If the location is somewhere you want to visit, this may be a wonderful opportunity for you. You may also want to invite your spouse or partner and take a little extra time off for yourself. Plan extra curricular activities to make this trip more enjoyable! Enjoy the time away, attend the conference parties, take some personal time to see a show, visit an area with local flair, bond with colleagues, and try to achieve lasting memories. All work and no play is never healthy.
Always take into consideration all of the topics discussed above prior to making your decision. Stay informed, and feel free to contact us if we can provide any additional information to you.
Jay A. Shorr BA, MBM-C, MAACS-AH, CAC I, II, III is the founder and managing partner of The Best Medical Business Solutions, assisting medical practices with the operational, financial and administrative health of their business. He is also a professional motivational speaker, an advisor to the Certified Aesthetic Consultant program and a certified medical business manager from Florida Atlantic University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Mara Shorr serves as the Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for The Best Medical Business Solutions, a Florida-based company helping aesthetic and cosmetic medical practices and spas with the financial, operational and administrative health of their business. She is a Level II, III and IV Certified Aesthetic Consultant utilizing knowledge and experience to help clients achieve their potential. A national speaker and writer, Ms. Shorr can be contacted at email@example.com.