Healthcare conferences and in-person training events are valuable opportunities for specialists and caregivers in any stage of their careers. After years of virtual formats due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendees are eager to reengage face-to-face.

With many organizations and health systems short on staff and budget, gaining approval to attend conferences can be challenging. Having a well-planned strategy can better your chances of approval to travel for in-person events.

Conference approval considerations

Healthcare leaders and managers are busy and constantly pulled in many directions. While patient safety is the most critical and pressing issue, managers are still regularly faced with a plethora of tasks and requirements — charting, billing, admin, re-credentialing, education, and so on. It’s especially challenging to divert this attention when faced with daily issues and decisions that involve patient care and require urgency and critical thinking.

Before healthcare leaders commit to approving something, they’re going to seek specific information to help their decision-making process. The more prepared you are to answer the following specifics about the conference, the better chance you’ll have for obtaining support.

Below are a few questions that your manager will likely have, as well as tips for presenting your case in a concise, convincing manner.

What makes this conference important?

Research what sets the conference that you’re hoping to attend apart from other events. For example, does it offer hands-on experience with new technology, or does it provide samples of new wound care products you can take back to your organization? If the event has a history of being reputable, be sure to include that in your discussion. Healthcare leaders tend to respect events that feature speakers or presentations from respected organizations that focus on improving patient outcomes, so emphasize those organizations when possible.

Many events offer the opportunity to access new products and technology. This can give you and your organization a first look at the latest tools available for your care setting. Popular vendors will also likely be in attendance giving you the chance to learn new insights firsthand on how new products were developed and how they can improve patient care.

What will the conference cost?

Your manager will need to budget for not only the cost of the event but also your meals, lodging, and transportation expenses. Be prepared with a reasonable figure that includes each category. Research if the event has offered discounted rates in the past or what types of promotions (group rates, etc.) might be available.

Another cost variable your supervisor must account for is your absence and what type of availability others have to cover your workload. Be cognizant of what additional time off you may be requesting and if it falls closely with the events’ dates. If the conference occurs at an especially busy time for your facility, you might consider attending only the most relevant day(s) to reduce your time out of office.

How will the organization benefit?

Industry events benefit attendees by ensuring they stay up to date with the latest trends and advancements in their field. This can help develop their career and demonstrate their commitment to ongoing learning and professional development. Many conferences offer continuing education credits, which can help attendees meet their professional development requirements and maintain licenses and certifications.

The organization benefits when attendees bring back their newfound knowledge to share across their unit, with other departments, and even leadership. These learning may include innovative product information, new evidence related to wound healing, or innovations for managing hard-to-heal and complex wounds. Conferences also provide networking opportunities with healthcare experts, researchers, and industry leaders. This can lead to new collaborations and opportunities for the attendee’s organization.

Making your case

Once you’ve researched the logistics and benefits of attending the conference, organize your material in a digestible way. If possible, and if it fits within your organization’s culture and manager’s schedule, meet with them in person. Value their time and be thoughtful in your delivery. Be clear, concise, and ready to answer questions.

If your manager is unable to meet in person, take the time to include your request and reasonings in a well-structured email. Be sure to cover the benefits, costs, and conference relevancy, as noted above. If you’re unlikely to see your manager due to different schedules, it’s OK to ask for a response by a certain date, especially if the conference has upcoming registration deadlines.

Keep an open mind when requesting approval to attend a conference and avoid becoming overly invested early on. Even if you’re sold on why the conference is relevant to you and your organization, there are several reasons why your manager may not be able to commit their support. While “no” may not have been the answer you expected, be professional and respectful of their decision so you can maintain a healthy working relationship.

If you're interested in expanding your knowledge of wound care, networking with colleagues, or seeing the latest wound care products and technology, register for the Wild on Wounds (WOW) conference August 14–17 in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Natalie Vaughn

Natalie Vaughn has worked in marketing and communications for more than 15 years, with more than half of her experience dedicated to healthcare quality improvement. At Relias, she partners with physicians, nurses, curriculum designers, writers, and other staff members to shape healthcare content designed to improve clinical practice, staff expertise, and patient outcomes. She obtained a Master of Business Administration degree with a focus in marketing, driven by a passion for understanding consumer behavior, branding strategies, and leveraging thought leaders as innovators within a given industry.

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