The past few months I've been thinking about why I attend the ASHA convention year, after year, after year! It's expensive, I have to take 3 days off from work, and it's ALWAYS right before Thanksgiving. So what's the deal?
As a Speech Language Pathologist, I think you should check out the ASHA convention, at least ONCE in your career!
1. To kick things off...it's the SUPER BOWL of the Speech Pathology and Audiology world!!! Enough said...
2. You are learning from the experts about the latest and greatest in our field. Sessions are packed with information, depth, and ideas come your first day back. More importantly, it's Evidence-Based.
3. You never know whom you will meet. You may meet someone standing in line who is also visiting their first ASHA or like you is interested in changing career paths. You may meet someone walking from your hotel to the same session five blocks away. Regardless, you can hear about the exciting places people work. Sometimes it is in a part of the field that you've only read about, such working on an Indian Reservation. YOU NEVER KNOW...
4. Because it's the week before Thanksgiving, you have the perfect excuse to visit relatives for Thanksgiving, providing you with a whole week to recover.
5. You can find handouts from previous years on-line at asha.org. It is not physically possible to attend everything, but at least you can check out their handouts. It's the gift that keeps on giving.
6. Brain food. A friend once told me that her time at ASHA was the one time per year that she really disconnected from the hustle and bustle of work life. Instead she immersed herself in everything that her sessions offered, letting it soak in. Consequently, she is one of the smartest, most amazing SLPs I know!
7. There's variety. You can take courses in a topic that you want to specialize in, take refresher courses, or expand your horizons by learning something new.
8. If you're going to spend money on traveling somewhere, why not see the great cities of America while earning some CEUs? I've been to some cities, that while weren't on my travel list, and have thoroughly enjoyed visiting.
9. You will challenge yourself! You will be challenged to consider other professionals' perspectives and ideas, the implication of new research, and at times, to think outside the box!
10. Vendors. Instead of looking through speech therapy catalogs you have the opportunity to put your hands on a sample, look through the pages, or try out that new computer program or app. Have questions, you can ask the very people that developed the materials!
11. THE FOOD! We have done Cuban at Gloria Estefan's restaurant in Miami, Beignets and Muffaletta sandwiches in New Orleans, the original Boston Cream Pie and Lobster rolls in Boston, and Colonial cuisine and Steak & Cheese sandwiches in Philly.
12. Over 12,000 people attend each year...so there are always plenty of people to mingle and visit with everywhere you go. (And you know SLPs love to talk!!)
13. You get to talk to ASHA face-to-face! They have their own section in the exhibit hall where you can see what's going on with the ASHA Leader, Special Interest Groups, the CEU Registry and more. You can ask ASHA anything you wish in person.
14. Running into Mark Faye in the hotel elevator or Wayne Secord at dinner! You get to meet the person behind those textbooks.
15. ASHA offers everything... poster sessions, 1-2 hour sessions, or in depth 3 hour short courses. You'll find sessions specific to various clinical settings, disability populations, and age ranges. There is something for everyone.
16. The give-ways, drawings, prizes, freebies, and more. (If you're not carefully, you may need to bring a second suitcase!)
17. Inspiring Speakers! Each year ASHA chooses an inspiring public figure for the Annie Glenn Award. Past ASHA President, Paul Rao, stated that "The 'Annie' is ASHA's Oscar, and each year our membership recognizes someone who exemplifies the distinction, courage, and quiet charisma of Mrs. Glenn." Past recipients include James Earl Jones, Julie Andrews, Vice President Joe Biden, Bob and Lee Woodruff, and Jane Seymour. This year the honor goes to Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly.
18. Added bonus...attending may be a tax deduction. Check it out.
19. As your interests and needs change throughout the years, so does ASHA. As you grow, your interests and class selections do too.
20. Bored with the same old therapy materials? The exhibit hall is HUGE making it an endless shopping experience. It's a great place to find new therapy ideas, books, testing materials and anything else you might be looking for. What SLP doesn't like shopping?
21. Perspective! ASHA is every November. By the time you sit down in your chair, you've already settled into the school year, learned the routine and familiarized yourself with your new students. I always think more clearly about situations when I take a step back from daily life. Keep a running list with you. As you hear things that maybe relevant to a specific student or situation, jot it down.
22. ASHA changes through the years. As technology changes, so does the ways in which ASHA shares information with it's attendees. You can find picture streams on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter messages, and now bloggers.
23. They are the BEST CEUs around. Who knows, maybe you will be presenting your own poster or session some day!
24. Saturday night's FREE ASHA Closing Party!!! Snag a ticket to this event (or try the will call line Saturday at lunch). Each year it is held at an interesting place with local cuisine. Think night at the museum (Chicago's Field Museum) and gumbo with the Mardi Gras floats in New Orleans!
25. Simply stated...IT'S FUN!
So starting thinking about next year. Plan ahead and make it affordable - go with friends, save money with the ASHA travel center and frequent flier miles, and plan ahead with employer CEU money. You can make it happen!
Who's going to ASHA!?!