“Have you heard about this meeting in Denmark?” A colleague slid the brochure for the meeting to me and told me that the school was a sponsor for the meeting, which was a year away in Odense, Denmark.
“Thanks! I’ll look into it.”
So, I Googled the International Family Nursing Conference and found the IFNA website. As I scrolled through the pages of the site, I recognized several names, particularly Dr. Kathy Knafl who was a consultant on a new intramural research project my colleagues and I were just beginning. The organization and conference sounded interesting. And, if I’m honest, it would mean going to Europe, which was a plus. I made a mental note to ask Kathy about the conference and organization when we had our next meeting.
Kathy shared with my colleagues and me a bit of the history of the organization and how these conferences had gone in the past. I liked the sound of a dedicated, passionate group of individuals who focused on the family. It sounded like a truly international group who did good work, but also had fun. I ran a potential abstract idea by Kathy, and she said she thought it would be perfect. It probably didn’t hurt that she was one of the planners for the upcoming conference. She knew a great deal about how this particular conference was going to shape up.
As the months passed, the abstract I submitted was accepted and soon my colleague Dr. Karen Rose and I were making our travel plans to Odense. As I worked on the presentation for the study, I looked forward to spending a week in Denmark and learning more about IFNA and the research members were conducting. I was particularly intrigued by the promotion of the use of social media for the conference, in particular Twitter.
After flying into Copenhagen, Karen and I took the train to Odense and checked into our hotel. Soon we were walking around the streets exploring the city. We happened upon what we soon called our “favorite” café in Odense with delicious, fresh food and a great view of the Odense Rådhus. The next evening, we were in the Rådhus for the opening reception for the conference. To see all of the countries and corners of the globe represented at the meeting was inspiring. It truly was international!
Each morning, Karen and I walked down the street to the Wendorff bakery for our breakfast of pastries and coffee. We’d then find our way through the charming streets to the meeting location and spend the day hearing about the research of others or presenting our own studies. The buffet lunch at the meeting was delicious and fresh. For dinner, we would explore the streets of Odense and find a little café where we could eat outside and watch the people. Another highlight of the meeting and part of the fun was the banquet at Hindsgavl Manor in Middelfart.
What I liked most about the conference was the feeling of collegiality and camaraderie. Those in attendance were passionate about their research, and yours. It was about the work of supporting families. People were interested in new ideas and new ways of thinking. And it felt like everyone was enjoying themselves—something that can be rare at conferences. Several attendees were tweeting about the experiences at the meeting and I had a lot of fun interacting with them. I even got my colleague Karen on Twitter and tweeting! The Communications Committee presented a workshop of the use of social media in research and practice. I enjoyed the session and noted several ideas and ways in which I could enhance my use of social media in my work. It was my wonderful experience at the conference that led me to accept Janice Bell’s invitation to join the IFNA Communications Committee. She, the other members of the committee, and I met virtually at first via Twitter and in person following their workshop. Since joining the Communications Committee, I am even more excited about IFNC13 in Pamplona next June. As I’ve worked with this dedicated committee of passionate individuals over the past several months, I’m eagerly awaiting getting to see them in person next summer, as well as other IFNA members from around the globe. I’ve a feeling that my experience in Pamplona will be just as rich, if not richer.
Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP, is an Associate Professor at the University of Tennessee College of Nursing and a member of the IFNA Communications Committee. His research focuses on support of family caregivers and persons with dementia. He uses social media as one way of examining the family caregiving experience. You can follow him on Twitter at @JoelAndersonPhD.