The evolution of conference planning at CANNT: planner versus planner.
Subject: Trade and professional associations (History)
Trade and professional associations (Conferences, meetings and seminars)
Author: Peters, Karen
Pub Date: 07/01/2008
Publication: Name: CANNT Journal Publisher: Canadian Association of Nephrology Nurses & Technologists Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2008 Canadian Association of Nephrology Nurses & Technologists ISSN: 1498-5136
Issue: Date: July-Sept, 2008 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 3
Product: Product Code: 8620000 Professional Membership Assns NAICS Code: 81392 Professional Organizations SIC Code: 8621 Professional organizations
Geographic: Geographic Scope: Canada Geographic Code: 1CANA Canada
Accession Number: 187615907
Full Text: When Faye Clark first approached me about writing this article, the memories of all of the conference planning committee responsibilities came quickly back to me. Was it really 26 years ago when I was on the first of four London planning committees?

My involvement as one of the co-chairs of the 2006 CANNT planning committee was an exhausting, but exhilarating experience. Other than for the regular meetings and the Wednesday to Sunday commitment at the conference, it was like the committee was the orchestra and Heather Reid, as our Conference Planner, was the conductor. It was obvious from the very beginning that Heather was well-rehearsed for this position. She knew what note to be played and when, with organizational plans in place two years prior to the actual conference date. I don't recall exactly when the conference planning committees started meeting in 1982, 1987 and 1998, but doubt it was no more than one year in advance of the conference, if even that. The conference chair in 1982 was no more rehearsed than the planning committee and only the Canadian Society of Dialysis Perfusionists (CSDP) board (two years before the name change to CANNT) provided guidance. Otherwise, the conference planning committees did it all! As any well-organized group, we volunteered to take on the different tasks required.


Our conference chair for 1982 was Bev Demelo (wife of David Demelo, technologist at London Health Sciences Centre) who did all of the conference facility bookings and planning. After the committee determined who we would seek to bring in as keynote speakers, another group contacted the speaker, determined their stipend (I think the most expensive speaker was $600 in 1982 compared to $8,000 in 2006), transportation requirements, etc., etc. I led the registration and fundraising committee by contacting the dialysis vendors for donations. The largest donation I recall was around $1,500.00 in comparison to more than $10,000 that Heather obtained in 2006 from six different vendors. All conference registrations were sent directly to me and entered into a ledger book where I kept track of all registration information and receipts manually. Luckily, there were computers and Heather to organize all of that in 2006. In the other conferences London hosted, the planning committee had designated members responsible for the entertainment planning, booking, etc., whereas Heather provided the committee with a list of entertainers and ideas. The 2006 planning committee just had to agree on what and who we wanted and Heather orchestrated the rest.

The only conference task I can think of that changed very little over the years was the "stuffing of the bags." The only exception was that in 1982, when we recruited for the planning committee, we also recruited for additional people to help stuff the bags--often being our staff. In 2006, this was done primarily by the committee members, CANNT board members and only a few volunteers. However, the number of bags to be packed certainly changed from approximately 200 registrants in 1982 compared to more than 800 in 2006. The committee members in 1982 determined the number of bags, dealt directly with the printers, picked up and mailed out all of the conference material. Heather did this all in 2006.


In 1998, the CANNT board had just hired the first paid conference planner with the registrations, fees, etc. sent directly to her. Other than that, the conference planning remained the same. In planning the 2006 conference, all this changed with the presence of Heather Reid. Heather organized the planning meetings and the co-chairs who, in turn, established the committee members. Heather had already determined the best location and potential dates for the 2006 conference by our first meeting. As the expert conductor, she had all of the instruments ready and the planning committee members needed to choose the notes to be played. Heather had a repertoire of themes, speakers and entertainment. Together we put it all into one harmonious song. All of the task work (e.g., printing, designing, mailing, etc.) was Heather's responsibility.

Having had this conference planning experience with a conference planner, I don't think the conference planning committee could perform the duties without the expertise of a planner who conducts conferences as her work. As CANNT members, we are all dedicated professional staff performing very hectic and demanding positions in our renal programs. We are not experts at planning conferences of this magnitude, nor can we dedicate the required time to make the annual conferences as successful as they have been.

I am thankful that CANNT members saw the need to invest in the conference planner and, most of all, we were so fortunate to have found such an expert and most pleasant planner with whom to work. Here's to Heather Reid and the 2008 planning committee!

About the author

Karen Peters, RN, is Manager of the Regional and London Satellite Dialysis Units and the Home Hemodialysis Unit at the London Health Sciences Centre, London, ON. Karen has been the manager of these units for 30 years, and has led her staff through the opening of six regional satellite hemodialysis units, initiated the home peritoneal dialysis program at the then Victoria Hospital, and continues to lead her staff through the growth and numerous changes within the regional and home dialysis units.

Karen's professional volunteer activities related to nephrology include:

CANNT--Active participation in the conference planning for the 1982, 1987 and 1998 CANNT conferences hosted in London, taking on various responsibilities to enable successful conferences. In 2006, Karen was one of the co-chairs for the London conference.

She has presented several oral and poster presentations over the years at the various CANNT conferences and, in 1998, was co-recipient of the Corporate Award for Best Paper Administration award for "Integrated Dialysis Delivery Network." Karen and her PD staff were winners of the LHSC 2004 Bonnie Adamson Quality Award for their success in "Lowering prevalence of peritonitis through care delivery improvements." Karen presented this at the CANNT conference the following year.

By Karen Peters, RN
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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