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How Virtual Events Help Nurses Meet Today’s Challenges
I’m getting ready to be the mother-in-law to a newly graduated nurse who earns her bachelor’s degree this December. Getting an education during the Pandemic has been more than a challenge for her especially with COVID restrictions that significantly reduced the hands-on clinical experience she needed to feel more confident to work with patients as she enters the workforce. However, as our company has been called on more and more often to deliver virtual and hybrid events for nursing associations, I realize that the challenges my daughter in law will face as an RN are going to be profound.
So, I took a deep dive into the nursing association virtual conferences that we have been privileged to deliver to learn more about how these groups are using virtual during these conferences to bring their membership together, address the challenges that nurses face, and get their members prepared for what continues to be a fast moving and ever-changing healthcare environment.
Here is what I learned from how our virtual event customers and the key challenges that they are helping their nursing members address.
Challenge #1: Staffing shortages have made it more difficult to attend a live event.
Recently we delivered the Association of Diabetes Care & Education Specialist annual conference with a huge percentage of attendees coming from the nursing profession. The feedback that the association received was a level of appreciation among attendees for the fact that this conference was made accessible to everyone because it was virtual. Not only did critical staffing shortages make it hard for people to take time from work, but there were other challenges nurses faced such as paying for travel or the perceived health risk of connecting with others in a live venue.
According to a recent study, 60% of the 3.3 million registered nurses work in hospitals but only 15% in critical care, a department being overrun with COVID patient emergencies. Virtual programming keeps nurses at home, and ready to go on the floor when they are needed.
Challenge #2: Support groups are needed to help nurses process the mental and ethical challenges they now face.
I never really appreciated the emotional challenges nurses are facing in these unusual times along with the ethical dilemmas of how COVID patients receive treatment. Many nurses are suffering from PTSD because of the elevated risk they face of their own illness or death as they execute their job. Not to mention the long hours and physical demands of being on the job.
But then we need to consider how difficult it must be to navigate who gets treated first and whose lives get saved in a crowded ER and ICU environment.
That’s why we’ve seen our virtual conferences liberally use discussion forums for nurses to weigh in on these issues and find ways to deal with them. Those forums become an online support group where people find comfort and value in expressing how they feel, processing their emotions, and realizing they are not alone. But virtual goes beyond just text-based forums with organizations adding video networking opportunities and round table discussions for nurses to share their thoughts and find better strategies to compensate for the mentally and emotionally challenging environment they find themselves in.
Challenge #3: Getting education in a convenient manner has become more difficult.
. Most medical professionals need to get their annual continuing education credits in order to maintain their licenses, but nowhere is this more evident than in nursing. In the past, nurses could accumulate credits at the association’s live annual conference. However, today nurses are managing a heavy work schedule, their children at home who may be in virtual school and just trying to balance their personal and work lives.
Our association customers have recognized this challenge by providing their conference attendees with a strong mix of online sessions, some of which are live with speaker engagement, but others that can be consumed online at a nurse’s convenience. CE credits are available no matter how you decided to take the class.
Challenge #4: Nurses get kudos for their work on the national news, but often feel underappreciated.
We hear on the nightly news about our front-line heroes in the ER and ICU, but I still think that many nurses don’t feel that sense of achievement and recognition. The diabetes education conference featured an awards and fellows segment of their event site to recognize their rising stars, those with distinguished service, stand out educators and lifetime achievement recipients. Each award winner was profiled on a video, had their achievements acknowledged and delivered a video acceptance speech. Having their peer group recognize and reward them reinforces the work and recognition that nurses crave from their own community.
Challenge #5: Nurses need new strategies to manage their patients and work environment.
One of the greatest values in a virtual event is that attendees are attracted from all over the country and even all over the world. It’s a time to showcase thought leaders, reveal new technologies to make the job more efficient, learn about simple strategies that save time and allow the nurse to serve more patients.
We’ve seen virtual event programs launch networking lounges hosted by their sponsors and featuring some of their key speakers for more intimate conversations. The Association of Perioperative Nurses, or AORN had over 250 company sponsors and exhibitors contributing to the collective wisdom by showcasing new products and innovative services in sessions or in their virtual booths.
Networking opportunities allowed nurses who have shared interests in common come together over a video meeting to brainstorm and strategize. The best ideas often come from these exchanges and are taken back to make the job easier and more rewarding.
Challenge #6: Someone must put the fun back in nursing.
Much of what I’ve said here has been about the extreme challenges that nurses face; however, many people got into the job because of the rewards, camaraderie, and the fun of being together with like-minded people inside a practice or a hospital. And our virtual show hosts did not disappoint. Our nursing virtual event hosts added scavenger hunts for prizes, social hour with music requests, mindfulness and meditation, coffee breaks, yoga experiences and even a virtual 5K. If it’s just all business or just all sessions, then nurses will miss out on the fun of being together, even if it’s in the virtual world.
Despite all the challenges, the nursing profession is still rated as one of the most desirable career paths with opportunities to make a great living and really affect the care outcome for millions of patients. What could be more gratifying than seeing someone come in sick and broken and walk out on a path to healthy recovery?
We’re proud to partner with professional nurses’ associations who are really working hard to deliver a great event experience that is relevant to the challenges nurses face today. Remember, we must keep attendees’ access to education flexible recognizing that nurses can’t always afford or be able to travel. Virtual events need to provide nurses with those valuable connections and promote discussions around mental health, ethical dilemmas, and their changing roles in healthcare. Time needs to be set aside for thought leadership, change management, and new strategies. After all, we have 3.3 million nurses who are making a dramatic impact on the future of healthcare.
And let’s not forget we need to craft our virtual environment to help nurses have time to lighten the mood, compete for the prizes, enjoy social hour, play trivia, or show off their creative and fun side.
Thank you to all the nurses’ associations that have trusted Cloud Conventions to manage your virtual and hybrid events, learn from how you help your membership address challenges and make our company better partners for the next nurse’s association that trusts us help them go virtual.