Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
NATIONWIDE NURSING SHORTAGE FORCES INDUSTRY
ASSOCIATIONS TO GET CREATIVE
Finding Ways to Find Attendees
Jannetti’s Cynthia Nowicki
The nation’s critical shortage of nurses,
estimated at more than 100,000 vacancies, also has challenged
industry associations that must do what they can to avoid
disastrous showings at meetings.
In recent years, attendance at the New York State Nursing
Association’s multiday conferences has suffered because
understaffed hospitals are reluctant to give nurses time off or the
nurses are too busy to attend, said Mark Genovese, spokesperson for
the NYSNA in Latham, N.Y.
Money also is an issue. Nurses increasingly must rely on their
own finances to attend meetings because hospitals are
cash-strapped, said Christy Edminster, director of convention
services at the National Nursing Staff Development Organization in
Pensacola, Fla. Workshops at the NNSDO conference can cost hundreds
of dollars above the registration fee, she said.
Addressing the crisis has become a priority for nursing
associations, many of which rely heavily on meetings revenue for
NYSNA and other groups have resorted to bringing their efforts
to hospitals and clinics. “Our education department has held
cultural-diversity and clinical-area sessions at facilities because
nurses just can’t get out,” said Genovese.
Another tactic used by NYSNA was to move its conference from
upstate New York to Manhattan. In 2001, the group managed to
attract twice as many attendees as its upstate gatherings, because
most were within easier commuting distance.
Another growing alternative is teleconferencing, which allows
nurses to take seminars or to vote for association leaders from
their home computers. In each of the last two years, for example,
the Pitman, N.J.-based American Nephrology Nurses Association has
seen a 7 percent rise in the use of teleconferencing.
To address funding issues, many groups have controlled
registration fees, said Anthony J. Jannetti, president and CEO of
Anthony J. Jannetti Inc., a Pitman, N.J.-based association
management company with seven nursing organizations. Jannetti’s
firm, whose clients have seen flat attendance for three years, also
has encouraged exhibitors to sponsor attendees.
Nursing groups might find relief in the short-term.
Hospitals desperate to attract nurses have begun offering
benefits such as educational leave, said Cynthia Nowicki,
Jannetti’s vice president of nursing education.
Time will tell whether meeting participation will improve.
However, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
expecting the shortage to double by 2010, the prognosis is
• BRUCE MYINT
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