A seasoned dietitian attends her first Dietitians of Canada National Conference and shares why she wants to see you in Winnipeg next year.
Steph Langdon is a Saskatoon based dietitian and entrepreneur. She is passionate about helping people lead healthier and happier lives with a focus on performance, prevention, and creating healthy habits. Steph is a food industry consultant and spokesperson, workshop facilitator, and a writer/blogger – when her role as a new-mom allows! You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect on LinkedIn or follow her on facebook or twitter @NutrishusRD.
With so many educational opportunities and often limited funds for professional development (especially when you’re self-employed), I had yet to attend the Dietitians of Canada (DC) National Conference.
When I started my practice, I was very focused on sports nutrition and as such, I attended sport related conferences. I had yet to attend a conference that was primarily RDs (we’re often outnumbered at Canadian sport conferences!). This year, I had the opportunity to attend my first DC National Conference with my colleagues from SaskMilk, which was nice as I had a few familiar faces in the crowd.
The conference started and right away I had a great feeling about it! Hundreds of RDs filled the room to hear Daniel Germain, from Breakfast Clubs of Canada, kick us off and remind us of the conference theme: stronger together.
What a great theme.
I have always worked in private practice, so I am often on my own, yet networking is extremely important to me. It helps me know what other opportunities are available, can sometimes open doors, and provides support when I need to reach out to someone. With social media, we “meet” a lot of people, but an in person introduction goes a long way. The conference provided a great opportunity for this.
I was able to reconnect with a few people like Kristyn Hall
and Kelly Anne Erdman
, and meet the new Saskatchewan Regional Executive Director Jennifer Wojcik. I was also able to finally meet some of my online connections. This fabulous group includes, but is not limited to, Kate Comeau
, Melissa Baker
, Sarah Remmer
, and Christy Brissette
. I also met current students/interns with an interest in private practice and introduced myself to Craving Change’s
own Wendy Shah.
There was lots of time for hellos and chatting, as well as attending informative sessions. The conference was also set up with a variety of optional activities, such as tours around Quebec City and network-sponsored evenings. I had my husband and six-month-old daughter tagging along, so I opted not to attend after hours events this time around, although I will definitely keep that in mind for future conferences.
With so many sessions, I found it helpful to read key points on twitter
for those that happened concurrently. I also used the Guidebook app to keep organized and view handouts and session summaries. I had many takeaways – I am still trying to digest and apply my key learnings.
The sessions that stood out to me were:
Niche marketing means business with Cyndi McLean
Marketing of foods and beverages to children with Dr. Monique Potvin Kent
Get heard by decision-makers with Ian Capstick
Finding truth in a sea of myth and misinformation with Tim Caulfield
I attended sessions that were directly related to my field and interests, but also sessions that purely peaked my curiosity. If we want to be experts in one area we can only do so much, but I feel that it’s also imperative that we know what’s going on and who to refer to in other areas. Attending sessions outside of my niche was great for this.
Many veteran RDs, that have attended the DC National Conference in the past, kept telling me that it’s what happens between the sessions that makes it so important to attend in person. It’s a chance to catch up with those people that you don’t get to see all year long, and to learn from each other, in addition to learning at the sessions.
Strength in numbers
In order to be “stronger together”, we must take these opportunities when we can. Our country is vast and there are great things happening from coast to coast, but many of us stay in our own little worlds for most, if not all, of the year.
For me, the conference was a chance to re-focus and a chance to meet others from across the country, while hearing what they’re succeeding or struggling at. With so many RDs in one place, there was always someone I wanted to talk to and learn from.
Do I think you should consider attending the DC National Conference next year? Absolutely! I plan to be there, and I would love to meet you face to face.
Top 3 reasons to attend the 2016 national conference in Winnipeg (June 9-11)
Put a face to the name you see in emails or on twitter. If you’re active on twitter, follow the conference hashtag (this year’s hashtag was #DCConf15) to continually interact with others at the conference and
at home. If you’re not as sure about your tweeting skills, you can still follow along, attend events, introduce yourself to others in your field at the welcome reception, sit at a table of strangers, and share business cards. Part of being “stronger together”
is knowing who is on your team!
Whether you’re curious about new research or want to make sure you’re on the right path, being in a room with other RDs is a great place to be. Part of my clarity was related to defining my niche and knowing not only the areas I want to continue in, but also the areas I want to leave to others as they’re doing great work. Clarity for you might come from collaboration, a chat over breakfast, or a presentation that was exactly what you needed to hear in that moment.
I love hearing about what others are doing and sharing our passion for nutrition and dietetics. By talking with other RDs for three days straight, I left the conference energized and feeling ready to get back to work and continue to promote our profession and all the great things that we’re doing.
If you were at the 2015 Dietitians of Canada National Conference, I hope we had the chance to meet. If we did, it was nice to meet you. If not, see you next year!
Editor’s note: This year’s national conference was an inspiring experience that reminded me of the incredible variety our profession has to offer. Meeting Steph and so many other influential RDs was a privilege.
Did you miss the conference this year? Check out some highlights here. Videos of the conference sessions will be posted to Learning on Demand beginning July 10.
Program proposals are now being accepted for the 2016 conference (deadline is Sept 15)!
What was your favourite part of this, or a past, year’s national conference? Please leave comments, thoughts or questions below. See you in Winnipeg!