several nurses sitting in training room

Nursing Professional Development: The Value of Nursing Conferences

Nurses committed to professional development cannot overlook the value of attending a professional nursing conference. However, attending one can be a little intimidating if you don’t know what to expect.

Depending on the conference you choose, there may be as few as 100 attendees – or up to several thousands of attendees. If you have never had the chance to attend a nursing conference, here are just a few ways they can help boost your nursing career:  

Nurse Networking

Conferences are excellent networking opportunities. To network, is to grow your community of contacts which is beneficial to advancing your career.

When you attend a conference you have an opportunity to meet and learn from your colleagues from across the nation. If you attend a conference such as the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) National Teaching Institute (NTI), or a Magnet Conference -- you will be attending with nurses from across the globe. Take advantage of the experience of these nurses. We all have so much to share.

Newest Practices in Nursing

Nursing conferences bring together the best and the brightest of nursing’s thought leaders. The education sessions present the latest research findings in nursing practice. By attending, you are in the best position possible to be on the leading edge of practice changes.

The Exhibit Hall

Visiting the exhibit hall during a nursing conference allows you to see and touch the latest products to improve patient care. You’ll see aisles and aisles of vendors -- all eagerly awaiting the chance to bend your ear and tell you how their product is the greatest. You can find representatives from colleges and universities, travel nursing organizations, nursing products (scrubs, shoes, books), as well as an opportunity to meet members from the American Nursing Association, National League of Nursing and other Nursing Organizations.

Continuing Education for Nurses

Not to be overlooked are the opportunities for continuing education hours. Most every state board of nursing requires nurses to complete a predetermined number of hours in order to apply for relicensure. In most cases the dedicated conference-goer can earn all, if not most, of the CEs required to renew their license. For example, attendees of NTI can earn up to 34 contact hours (AACN, 2015).

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Tips for Nurse Conference Attendees

The key to a successful experience is to plan ahead. If you are considering a conference, register early. Many nursing conferences offer early bird registration and discounts for multiple attendees that register together. Keep track of updates on the conference website; as soon as the schedule of sessions is released, start planning what breakout sessions you’d like to attend. If you prefer hardcopies, consider printing handouts of the sessions you plan to attend. Bring a sweater; the temperature inside conference spaces can be unpredictable. For more tips on how to have a successful nursing conference experience, click here.

Attending a professional nursing conference provides a wonderful opportunity for professional growth. However, you must be prepared before you go. Following these simple tips will help you create a more valuable experience.

For more topics on Nursing Professional Development, visit, where you will find 17 NPD-focused courses from which to choose. Just click on the link provided and scroll down to find, “Professional Nursing Topics” in the menu.


  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses [AACN]. (2015). Why Attend NTI? Retrieved from
  • Shellenbarger, T. (2015). 12 tips for a successful nursing conference experience. Retrieved from 

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