My Top 10 List of Reasons to Attend a Symposium

I’ve just returned from an inspiring two days in San Francisco. No, I wasn’t touring the wine country – although that doesn’t sound like a bad idea. Actually, I was attending the Press Ganey Regional Education Symposium. Before you roll your eyes at my use of the word “inspiring” to describe a symposium, let me explain. Did you know that the word inspire comes from the Latin verb spirare meaning “to breathe?” Inspiration literally means to breathe into. Along with the fantastic spring air in San Francisco, I was able to breathe in some fresh ideas and perspectives. It felt good to inhale the positive energy and exhale discouraging thoughts.

At the same time, if you’re like me, it takes more than one colleague’s suggestion to persuade me that an activity is worthwhile. I couldn’t get David Letterman on the phone, but here is my version of the Top Ten Reasons to Attend a Press Ganey Regional Education Symposium:

10. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It’s trite, but true. One of the realities of our nation’s economic crisis is businesses having their best and brightest workers stepping up to wear many different hats. If you are a star, you know this to be true. Your organization depends on you for that “one more thing.” Perhaps your most recent responsibility is patient satisfaction. Regardless of how you have prioritized the myriad of duties you face, Press Ganey has anticipated the questions you might have.

9. “You’re not alone.” This comment appears regularly on the symposium evaluation forms. Attendees remark that, “It’s reassuring to know that other hospitals are on a similar journey to ours.” There is safety in numbers, and many health care professionals are dealing with challenges similar to yours.

8. “Ignorance isn’t bliss.” We’ve all heard that expression, “Ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.” Try telling CMS you didn’t know about the HCAHPS survey requirements! The symposium offers real-time knowledge in clinical quality and efficiency; employee and physician engagement; medical practice; and service excellence – knowledge that translates to monetary gain in a pay-for-performance world.

7. “It feels good to get away.” These are stressful times in health care, and we should all take a moment to renew now and then. The symposium is a great way to get away from cell phones, pagers, email and putting out fires and sit down with fellow professionals to simply talk about how to make health care better.

6. “Free therapy.” Seriously. We all have a story and it is therapeutic to tell it to empathetic listeners. Some of the best discussions come from sharing an incident or patient comment. The keynote speakers at the symposium are very special people sharing their talent in reaching into the complexities of health care and pulling out heartfelt compassion and enthusiasm.

5. “Registration is less than gourmet coffee.” If you can spend $4 a day on a soy latte, you have a great head start toward the cost of a Press Ganey Regional Education Symposium.

4. “Education teaches you how to spell experience.” It’s like the chicken and the egg when we talk about the value of education and experience. The truth is that it takes both to be successful in life. The symposium environment offers new leaders the opportunity to learn from tenured leaders.

3. “You meet lots of patients.” Think about it. Are there any of us who have not had a personal experience in health care? The sessions are designed to keep the focus on the patient. Participants are able to explore different “what-if” solutions and scenarios to determine how they might be perceived by patients rather than caregivers.

2. “Adults are slow learners.” There are lots of reasons for this – none of them negative. Adults have established ways of doing things. They are preoccupied and need to know the relevance and immediate application of new information. It’s hardly a surprise that many adult educational endeavors fail. The Press Ganey Regional Education Symposium is designed for adult learners. Attention is given to examples that convey authentic problems and best practice solutions.

1. And the top reason for attending a Press Ganey Regional Education Symposium? “You can get to ‘always’ from here.” The upcoming symposium destinations of Houston, Boston, Atlanta and Chicago are really just way stations on your journey to “always” on your surveys. Many organizations are looking for a back road or shortcut to take them to their goals. Your major highway may appear congested with stop and go traffic – scores that go one way for a while, and then a dogleg takes you off in another direction. The symposium will get you back on track and help you set a compass that will take your organization to always.

It’s not too late to sign up for one of the remaining Regional Education Symposiums. If you are reading this post, you’re just the kind of knowledge-seeker we are hoping to attract. Come share your unique insights with other Press Ganey clients. It’s a wonderful experience just waiting to happen.