Tips for First Time Attendees

Make the Most of Your Conference Experience!

Attending the APNA Annual Conference for the first time can feel overwhelming, but don't worry, you've come to the right place! By choosing to attend the APNA 33rd Annual Conference you are making a significant investment in your professional support network and the quality of care you deliver to your patients. And because you'll be surrounded by your psychiatric-mental health nurse colleagues, you won't be on your own for long!

Here are some tips and ideas to help you make the most of your time in New Orleans.

Before You Leave for the Conference

Do a little bit of prepping:

  • Read the emails you receive from APNA with important conference information and review the attendee info page. (Emails will come from
  • Review the evaluations instructions and do a test run of the online evaluations site by completing the pre-session surveys. See step-by-step instructions for completing your evaluations here.
  • Save the conference app to your device or bookmark the site. View your agenda, download the handouts for the sessions you'll be attending, and see who else is coming - all via the app.
  • Think about what you're hoping to get from the conference and and check out the Conference Success Kit for tips on making it happen.
  • Check out the online poster gallery to pick out the posters you want to be sure to see at the conference. (Coming Soon!)

Remember to pack:

  • A sweater, as session room temperatures vary.
  • A copy of your registration confirmation, just in case.
  • Business cards, so that you can easily exchange contact info with your new connections.
  • Not sure what to bring to wear? Check out these photos on Facebook from last year's conference to see how attendees generally dress.

While You're at the Conference

Be flexible and open:

  • Follow your agenda or go to a different session that strikes your fancy. If you need to take a break, take a break. You'll have access to session recordings after the conference so you don't need to worry about missing out on content.
  • Browse the poster presentations for information on new topics and areas which may be outside of your focus.
  • Take some time to explore the exhibit hall and meet with industry leaders and vendors.
  • Strike up conversations during beverage breaks, and meals. This is your opportunity to speak with others in your field and learn about the work they do.
  • Don't miss the Mardi Gras party on Thursday evening, which will include standup comedy, music and dancing, and food. Make friends early on that will continue throughout the conference at this event where you can let loose and get a taste of New Orleans with fellow nurses.
  • Remember you have until November 15th to complete your online evaluations and get your CE certificate.

Use these tools:

  • The conference program book you receive at registration, as well as the conference app include information on just about everything you need to know.
  • The Registration Desk and APNA booth in the Exhibit Hall are staffed with people waiting to help you make the most of the conference. Stop by with your questions or feedback.
  • The conference app includes a discussion feature which allows you to message groups or individuals, set up meetings, and more.
  • On social media, check out what's being shared with #PMHNCon, the conference hashtag. (And if you're on snapchat, look for the APNA Annual Conference snapchat filter!)

Once You're Home from the Conference

Stay in the know:

  • If you didn't complete your evaluations and generate your CE Certificate on site, remember to log in to the evaluations site and complete all of those steps before November 15th.
  • Look for an email 2-3 months after the conference with a unique discount code which will allow you to earn CE in the APNA eLearning Center for sessions you did not attend onsite.
  • Send follow-up messages to colleagues you met at the conference to make sure you keep in touch.
  • Mark your calendar for the APNA 34th Annual Conference, September 30-October 3, 2020 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort.

Pay it forward:

  • Share new approaches, best practices, and resources with your colleagues at work.
  • Fill out the post-conference survey (you'll receive an email link) to share your feedback to ensure that future conferences meet the needs of nurses like you.
  • Help spread the word about the conference - share your pictures and experience on social media and use the #PMHNCon conference hashtag.
  • Think about submitting an abstract for presentation for next year's conference at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort. The call for abstracts will open in January.
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The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited with distinction as a provider of nursing continuing professional development by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.