We are all busy. So busy in fact, that the idea of taking days out of your work week to travel to an industry conference may seem like a luxury you can't afford. Will someone pick up the slack while you are out? Will your projects continue to move forward without you there to oversee? Will you return to a flooded email inbox? That last one I can answer for you; yes, yes you will, you will be drowning in emails. But don't say no to conferences just yet, I'm going to give you five reasons why I think it will be worth your time despite the obstacles. 

Learn
Continuing education credits are a big part of conferences in the healthcare field. But beyond checking the box to earn your CEUs, conferences deliver a vast array of useful information in a short amount of time. Not only will you be hearing from some of the leading minds in your field, you have the opportunity to ask questions and get advice on how to enhance your own work. You will learn about new and modified regulations, many times directly from the people who wrote them. 

Network
Not only do conferences expose you to experts in a lecture setting, but you're also surrounded by colleagues from around the country and the globe who are working in your field. Meeting fellow professionals in your industry can offer encouragement, advice, and solutions to common problems and challenges. Networking at conferences can lead to professional connections even after the event is over. As enticing as it can be after a long day of lectures to opt for room service and comfy pants, take advantage of the group dinners and events. This is your chance to mingle and meet the people in your industry. Not only will it make the event more fun, it may lead to job prospects or collaboration opportunities in the future. Give people a chance to meet you. You may find a future employer or a future hire; you could meet a potential research collaborator or you may strike up a dialogue with someone from the presenting organization and be invited back as a speaker. 

Explore
Some attendees shy away from the exhibit hall at conferences, afraid they will be hounded by salespeople. Don't fear, these are some of the best people to learn from. The exhibit hall is the place for discovering cutting edge products and innovative services. And think about how many people in your field those exhibitors are talking to… they are up-to-date on growing trends and best practices. Spend some time with them and keep the learning going. As a conference exhibitor myself, I can tell you that standing in the booth can be socially awkward, so smile and say hi as you walk the floor, you'll be surprised how easy it can be to connect and learn. 

Renew
Sometimes you just need a break from the day to day of your job to recharge. Attending conferences can provide just that kind of boost. Listen to different perspectives from your counterparts at organizations from around the country. You'll return to work recharged with fresh motivation and inspiration. Industry conferences mix learning and networking with receptions and special events, allowing you to stay relevant while having fun. Although your days will be jam packed with sessions and exhibit hall tours, take the two hours between the last session and the welcome reception to see the top attractions in the city you are visiting. 

Share
And when it's over and you are back at work, share what you've learned with your colleagues. Grab some useful giveaways from the exhibit hall floor and share them back at the office. Pick up vendor literature and tell your coworkers about the new testing software or the just released regulatory guidelines. It will reinforce what you've learned and it will make everyone feel like they got something out of the conference you attended.