I’ve had a few weeks to now reflect upon another one of the great Missouri state association conferences – MSHA. The 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention was once again a hit. Over 1000 attendees, great speakers, and a wonderful variety of vendors from Missouri and Nationally.
So let’s get right to it…what do I and so many other professionals find unique about the MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention?
First off, in comparison to the Missouri Occupational Therapy Association and Missouri Physical Therapy Association Annual Conferences, the MSHA is the giant of them all. Over 1000 attendees – from seasoned speech language pathologists, to new grads, to current students. All wanting to learn, network, and contribute to their profession. It’s something that you absolutely feel in the air at the MSHA Conference. Which may be why I thoroughly enjoy my conversations with speech therapists…these professionals are vibrant, flexible, and very down to earth. Much like you and me!
Secondly, the variety of vendors are pretty amazing. Sure, there are therapist employers, such as Metropolitan Health Staffing Network, but there are also book vendors (something very cool since I have 3 little boys at home), jewelry vendors, handbag vendors, app vendors, and more. Start up companies. Seasoned companies. Companies from Missouri. And National Companies. This makes for quite the dynamic environment in the exhibition hall…you’re bound to find something or someone that you like!
I spoke with one particular vendor, whom I consider friends in the business. The conversation brought out a wonderful idea (not mine, I’ll admit) of combining the MSHA, MOTA, and MPTA annual conferences. Not each and every year, but what about once every 2-3 years? Think about the attendance boost, the greater number of vendors, the higher quality of speakers, and the collaboration that it could bring. Why not do this? More therapy settings are increasingly emphasizing communication and collaboration across disciplines – PT, OT, SLP, nursing, and more. This would be a perfect setting to enhance and emphasize that concept and more. It just makes sense, and yes, I’m sure there is a way for MOTA, MPTA, and MSHA to share the profits. So get going and make this happen people!
Next, I noticed something this year at the 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention that I hadn’t noticed the previous year that really got me excited. (We’ve only exhibited in 2011 and 2012). It’s something that I have noticed in general about speech therapists, and I mentioned above that SLPs are for the most part flexible and vibrant. (No offense, but much more so than PTs and OTs) We’ll, this year, I noticed that more SLPs are open to any of the following: picking up PRN work in a setting other than their “specialty”, SLPs near retirement looking to stay active in their retirement years, students not committing 100% to either a school or medical setting, and more SLPs that either have their own business or those that are piecing together the equivalent of full time work with a few part time or PRN opportunities. The humble nature of their flexibility and enthusiasm in being able to work in many settings is energizing. And quite refreshing to see.
Lastly, a couple of things to note. I eluded to this above, but I witnessed fewer students that were adamant about working in either a medical setting or a school setting. A big shift from the previous year. Another interest worthy of mentioning was Vital Stim. There was a bit more “buzz” about this treatment option this year – especially from the younger generations. More SLPs desire to become Vital Stim certified, but have not yet for several reasons. And deservingly so, but not because of their fault or lack of desire. See why here…
So there you have it! The 2012 MSHA Annual Meeting and Convention was a fun, informative, and exciting time. It was our second consecutive year as part of the event, and we are already seeing trends changing in the field.
Hats off to MSHA for a job well done once again!
Were you at MSHA this year? What are your thoughts on the conference and the observations I listed above? It’s OK to agree, and disagree – so please, leave your opinion.