Friday, June 25, 2010

Conference Report

The first Midwifery and MotherCare Educators Conference is over. The people who attended loved the sessions had an amazing time and were very pleased with the quality of the speakers. It was a very small turn out of about 60 people. It was wonderful to meet some people from Aviva in person that I have only met online. As an organizer I am still in recovery. The conference was originally scheduled for March and last December with everything going on with Aviva, the upcoming MEAC site visit, we decided to cancel and try again the following year. But due to the contract I had with the hotel, it would have cost us way too much money to cancel, so we moved forward. It was a terrible date, Fathers Day, same week as ACNM, another MANA conference, but we were stuck with it. With limited staff time and everyone super busy, there were some balls dropped and some delays in the CEU approvals, which was problematic in terms of attendance. On top of everything else the two weeks before the conference I had some very serious health issues, including an injury to my foot. With my diabetes and neuropathy there was a risk of me losing the foot, so I had to be in a wheel chair, and had multiple doctor appointments, and was not available much, so things were way behind. Because of my foot injury I rented a scooter, which I have to admit to be really fun driving around the hotel. One night I even got out of the hotel with Rob and Roberta and went to the river and checked out the local festival. From the perspective of the organizer, being underfunded and understaffed, I missed a lot of sleep, added some family drama to the mix, so it was stressful. It was rewarding that the end result was the positive experience of the attendees. While the attendance was low, and the speakers that worked hard for such a small audience, we got amazing feedback. The sessions were a bit long and not enough breaks, but people really got out a lot from each session.

The last midwifery educator's conference I organized was in 1999, and a number of different schools participated, we had a school panel where different schools presented their information. Even though my school at the time Oregon School of Midwifery presented it, we opened it up to other programs giving everyone a chance to meet. I had envisioned the same sort of thing with this conference. However since this conference was viewed as an "Aviva" conference, the other schools did not participate, and due to the short timeline and bad dates did not help. I am really hoping next year's conference we can get more schools and programs involved and have more of an educator conference with different programs participating.

Some high points: Heard wonderful things about most sessions, especially Tamy Roloff's and Meg Stalnakers. Had some great times with some of the Aviva teachers and students, although much of the planned meeting work did not happen for various reasons. It would have been nice to have more Aviva students, and I wish I would have been less busy. Tamy Roloff's son Caleb's band played wonderful music and my family came for the combination conference and graduation party. I seen one of my sisters for the first time in 12 years. The volunteers were great, and I was particularly touched by their dedication, time and effort. Made some great connections and special thanks to Rob, Roberta, Malia, and Andrea. The hotel had great food, free drinks during happy hour, and free breakfast. It was a bit posh for our crowd, and I had no idea the parking would be so expensive, and no free wifi. But it was a learning experience and I am sure the next one will be better. We are looking at August of 2011, and with all the lessons learned from this time I think it will go much smoother.

Usually in June I am working on herbal products getting ready for our booth at the but that all got put on hold for the conference, so I am busy playing catch up with Aviva work, and getting ready for the Fair. I hope everyone in the area will come by and see us at the Fair, and if you are a midwife, student or doula and wish to work, contact me via email.



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