Jun
17
Best Nutrition Conferences for Dietitians
By Anne Danahy MS RDN

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Whether you’re an RD2B, in the early stages of your career, or you’ve been practicing for more years than you can count, one of the best ways to energize and recharge your career is to attend a conference. It’s a great opportunity to network with like-minded people, get inspired, and make new friends.

Even if you’re a pro, attending a conference can be overwhelming. And, between the registration fee, travel, hotel and meals, they can be expensive. The rewards can pay off tremendously though – as long as you do your research and pick the right conference. Here’s a short list of some favorites and tips for how to make them more budget-friendly.


Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo
(FNCE)

Without a doubt, FNCE is the biggest and the best for dietitians. Held in a different city each fall, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics sponsors the world’s largest meeting of food and nutrition experts. With more than 10,000 attendees 130+ educational sessions, and almost 400 companies on the exhibit floor, FNCE can be overwhelming, so do your homework and plan ahead.

The schedule of events, educational sessions, and exhibitors list are published in advance, so take some time to review everything and set an agenda for yourself. There’s also an app you can download to help keep you organized and on time for everything. Bonus: between the educational sessions and the exhibit floor, you can rack up at least 25 CPEU credits in one weekend.

Tips:

  • Book your registration early for the best price
  • FNCE is always held at a large convention center, so often events (and hotels) are spread out.
  • Shuttle service is provided between the expo center and major hotels, so don’t feel the need to stay at the closest (and usually most expensive) hotel. Moving a few blocks away from the convention center often saves quite a bit on your hotel bill.
  • Split your hotel room or share an Airbnb with a few friends. If you’re in need of a roommate, the FNCE website has a matching service.
  • If you’re a freelance writer (or even a successful blogger) and you can turn any of the FNCE sessions into an assignment, consider applying for a press pass, which gives you free registration. Guidelines are on the FNCE website.


Today’s Dietitian Symposium

This conference is only 6 years old but growing rapidly. It’s for RDNs, DTRs and nutrition students, and it’s much smaller and more intimate than FNCE. I attended for the first time this past May and was pleasantly surprised. Today’s Dietitian Symposium is hosted by the publication of the same name. It’s held at a different resort/hotel each spring, and the nice thing is that everything from the hotel rooms to the complimentary breakfasts, lunches, and evening receptions as well as all of the sessions and exhibits, is all right on site.

Today’s Dietitian Symposium is a great opportunity to meet new people, and really spend some time with them. The educational sessions and company exhibits are far more limited than FNCE, but there are plenty of interesting options for professional enrichment and at least 15 CPEUs.

Tips:

  • If you’re new to conferences, this is a great one to start with because of its convenience, smaller size and more intimate feeling. It’s also significantly less expensive than FNCE, especially since most of your meals are included in the registration fee.
  • Today’s Dietitian also provides a roommate matching service if you want to share a hotel room and save some money.
  • The registration period closes a few months prior to the start, so don’t wait!
  • If you don’t have an employer who will reimburse your registration fee, apply for their scholarship. Instructions are on the registration website, and you could win free registration


SCAN Symposium

This conference is sponsored by Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition, the largest of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics practice groups. SCAN is another small but popular conference that’s held in a different city each spring. It’s shorter (about 2.5 days long) and offers a nice mix of sports nutrition and wellness educational sessions, workshops and activities, poster sessions, exhibits and networking, with the bonus of least 18 CPEU credits.

Tips:

  • Take advantage of early bird registration, because the price increases as you get closer to the start.
  • While you don’t have to be a SCAN member to attend, members pay a significantly lower registration fee, so it’s worth it to join. Plus, SCAN members have access to free webinars and educational events throughout the year.


American Association of Diabetes Educators
(AADE)

If you work with patients with diabetes, you’ll find this annual conference extremely worthwhile. It’s held each August, and it’s a nice, mid-size conference. About 3,000 diabetes educators attend, but only about 35% are RDNs. The benefit there, is that you’ll have a chance to interact with other types of clinicians and professionals, and get their perspective on diabetes trends, care, and treatment.

AADE offers over 100 educational sessions, in 8 different tracks, so whether your interest is on the patient care side, the public health side, or the business/technology side, you’ll have plenty to choose from. In addition, there are approximately 200 companies that exhibit.

Tips:

  • AADE members get the best registration pricing, but the fee goes up for everyone if you wait to register, so do it early if you can.
  • If you’re a freelance or staff writer on assignment, or if you write a nutrition blog and can show that you’ll use the session information for an article on your own website, you can apply for a press pass, which gives you free registration. Details are on the registration website.
  • Much like FNCE, AADE is held at a large conference center with hotel options available on their website. Use the hotel and roommate suggestions above to save money on your lodging.