12 tips on managing the ongoing costs of Professional Development as a Dietitian.

Well, well, well. What a response I got to this post over in Instaland whilst the 2018 Dietitian Association of Australia’s National Annual Conference was on last week.

  • Who sat at home and admired all the photos from the conference with a small bit of FOMO creeping up on them?
  • Who wanted to be there but just couldn’t?
  • Who said another time, another year?
  • If you want to make 2019 the year you go, the year you do something big for your CPD, stay with me for a little longer.

I have been extremely lucky to attend some really big conferences as part of my continuing professional development (CPD) over the past 10 years and now I am moving more into the self employed realm, it’s probably something I need to give a bit more thought into for the future and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

I actually got to attend the DAA conference the year it was in Canberra which is when we lived there and working for health, I was extremely fortunate they covered the costs of registration for me so I really didn’t have any out of pocket costs that year. I did have to produce a report and share with my team some of the learnings from the event. I have also been over to New Zealand in 2015 for the Joint Nutrition Society of Australia and Nutrition Society of New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting. Again, I was lucky enough to apply for a conference grant which funded my airfaires and accommodation whilst the department I worked in funded my registration.

Whilst I know I have been very privileged to have these opportunities, I also know that when you are working for yourself, there is no boss funding your great plans to attend everything that you are attracted too so you need to be picky about what you do for your development for the year and make sure it is aligned with you and your goals.
I’ve put together some ideas on how those of you in private practice can factor in big ticket CPD in the years to come.

Save your tax return for CPD, or a portion of it:Having your own business, there are so many things you can put against your business which should hopefully give you a nice surprise at the end of the financial year. If so, have you considered putting some aside for CPD?

Put some money aside every month:Have you thought about opening up a separate savings bank account for CPD and contributing to it monthly, a bit like a layby in advance?

Apply for a scholarship:I successfully applied for and received a scholarship in October last year to attend the OSSANZ Conference. If you work in a specialised area and there is an event specific to your area of work, can you apply for a scholarship through them? A list of scholarships and grants available through DAA is currently listed herehttps://daa.asn.au/about-daa/awards-prizes-grants-and-scholarships/research-grants-and-scholarships/

The Nutrition Society: TNS is offering conference grants to those who are members who can least afford scientific meetings and conferences worldwide. Preference is given to members who are undergraduates doing their first degree, MSc students or PhD students or those who are in early stages of their career, ie have less than 10 years’ experience. The current application round closes on 31stMore information can be found here:https://www.nutritionsociety.org/grants-and-awards/conference-grants

Travel Grants:DAA have recently advertised they have travel grants available for transport and accommodation to present an oral presentation on work you have done or if you are sharing aspects of the work you have done with other fellow DAA members who would benefit from the dissemination.

Incorporate attendance fees in DAA annual membership:maybe if you know it’s something you want to attend, DAA could account for this when we pay our annual membership fee and somehow incorporate it into our membership if we elect too. For those that pay via instalments, adding the additional cost through 4 quarterly payments would take the pressure off somewhat.

Billeting:accommodation can be quite costly for 3-4 nights as well as the cost of food being purchased on the go and out for nearly half a week as well. Think Air BnB for Dietitians at the conference, Newcastle Dietitian Roberta Asher proposed a billeting system in that other dietitians in the local area could offer a bedroom to fellow dietitians wishing to attend.

Reciprocal arrangements:if there is an area of interest you want to upskill in, can you offer something of value from your knowledge base and use it as a two-way street to learn from each other? This doesn’t apply so much to big ticket events but can help with your CPD throughout the year.

Present/Posters: Use this as an opportunity to present on research that you have been apart of or to develop a poster presentation as you are much more likely to get funding to attend if you hare contributing in some way.

Sponsors:Has anyone thought of approaching the sponsors or companies that are apart of the trade show and asking them if they need assistance to man their stalls and if so, you would be able to it for the three days of the conference if you could come to an arrangement regarding being sponsored to attend or if they were in agreeance to cover 50% registration costs. Any financial contribution helps, in this arrangement you are swapping your time for their money.

DAA Branch Continuing Education Grants:each state or territory branch usually has an allowance for CPD which can be offered to members. The opportunities are usually advertised in relation to each event or you can contact your branch directly for more information.

Live stream in all capital cities:imagine if you only had to travel to your closest capital city and were joined by 20-30 fellow dietitians who you could stream the conference with?

I hope there are some ideas here that are of interest to some of you and inspire you to keep your eye out for upcoming grants and scholarships- you have to be in it to win in and I’m going to put it out there now, seeing as the 2019 DAA Conference is on the Gold Coast, I’m committing to being there- who wants a bedroom in a house with 4 kids already?

Looking forward to seeing all your lovely faces there.

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