Attending your first health professionals conference is an exciting prospect especially if you’re lucky enough to be travelling to an international conference. A time to really connect with colleagues. To explore all kinds of new ideas and have fun with ‘your tribe’. But it can also be a bit daunting, especially if it is a large conference.

As part of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists 2017 Annual Conference a small group of us formed a blog squad. One of the things which evolved from our time together was a discussion about what it feels like to attend a major conference for the first time. Given that we were all at different stages of our careers it was an interesting discussion.

As you get further into your career and attend more conferences it’s easy to forget what it felt like the first time you attended a major conference. It was insightful to be reminded, by those of us attending for the first time, what this experience was like. The questions you have before the start of a conference, what it feels like to walk into such a big gathering on your own and how to make best use of your time.

So, the award winning writer Rob Young and I got together with Katie Gabriel, a BSc Occupational Therapy student at the University of Cumbria, Orla Hughes, an MSc Occupational Therapy student at Teeside University, and Catherine Gray, a Research Practitioner in Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and founder of Cup-O-T: Wellness and Therapy Services, to pool our experience. The result? A new Friendly Guide to support anyone attending their first health professionals conference.

The Friendly Guide

Like our other Friendly Guides it’s informal in style and hopefully full of practical information. The sections include

  • Making the best use of your time
  • Networking
  • Some important questions to ask of yourself
  • Don’t forget to celebrate your gasps
  • What happens at conference does not stay at conference
  • Those niggling questions

We hope we have created something useful. We’d welcome any feedback.

You can download the guide for free here