Welcome back. It’s been a while. I took a little bit of a summer vacation and now I am back with plenty of podcast episodes over the next two months.
Before I jump into today’s episode, which is a review and reflections on the two conferences that I attended this summer, AACN and the Group Practice Owners Summit, before I jump into that, I want to really engage in my first, I guess you call corrections corner.
Way back, I interviewed Karen Postal about effective feedback sessions. She co-wrote the book, Feedback that Sticks, and her co-author Kira Armstrong graciously contacted me way back then and asked for credit as a co-author. I totally missed that comment. It didn’t show up in my email or on the [00:01:00] blog. And I just found it two months ago and promised her that I would go back and credit her as co-author for the book Feedback that Sticks. So there it is. Kira is definitely a co-author of that book and she brings a lot to the table. She will also come up in the podcast because I attended a workshop with her, which was really good at the AACN conference.
Let’s see. Two calls to action. I’m only supposed to do one, but again, I think you guys can handle it.
First one, if you need CE credits, you can go to athealth.com, listen to these podcast episodes, Testing Psychologists, take a short test and you will be able to get CE credits for the podcast, which is great.
The other call to action. At the time of recording, I have two individual consulting spots open. If you [00:02:00] are interested in individual consulting to grow your testing services or build your practice, I’d love to work with you. So you can book a pre-consulting call over at thetestingpsychologist.com/consulting.
Alright, let’s dive into my reflections on AACN and the GPOS conferences.
All right y’all, welcome back. Like I said, this is just an opportunity for me to reflect on the two conferences that I’ve been to this summer. This will be a top-of-the-mind episode where I’m talking off the top of my head.
I wanted to put this out there because conferences are something that we [00:03:00] invest a lot of time and energy into, and some of you might want to be planning your conference calendar for next summer. Again, this is just my experience, the way that I tackled each of these conferences and some reactions afterward. So take it with a grain of salt, but hopefully, this will help some of you in figuring out how you might want to spend those continuing education dollars going forward.
So the first conference that I attended back in June, early June, was the American Academy of Clinical Neuropsychology (AACN). This conference was in Chicago and it was downtown Chicago. I think a theme in the conference reviews is going to be just the differences in tone and setup and audience and just [00:04:00] intimacy maybe is a good way to put it.
So right from the beginning, AACN is a bigger conference. It’s a large national group of clinical neuropsychologists. So this was really my clinical conference for the summer. I attended five workshops at that conference.
Now, one thing I’ve heard is that AACN has a reputation as one of the more clinically focused conferences in the neuropsychology world contrasted with something like say INS, which I’ve heard is much more heavily focused on research and hard to apply to the clinical world sometimes. So that’s why I picked AACN. And also because my mentor, Dr. Amy Connery down at Children’s Hospital mentioned that it is her favorite of all the neuropsych conferences. So that carried some weight too.
Anyway, AACN, early June. It was three [00:05:00] days and it was in downtown Chicago. So, the location was great. The host hotel was fantastic. It was really nice. Conference spaces we’re well laid out. I thought it was a really elegant venue, which is cool. Lots of restaurants, coffee shops, and so forth within walking distance there in the downtown Chicago area.
I know downtown Chicago is huge. I’m sure some of you are like, there’s more than one downtown Chicago, but this particular area was really nice. I think it was in the River North district if that makes sense. If you’re from Chicago, feel free to correct me. Just send me an email. But it was really nice. I definitely tune into the locale when I’m going to a conference.
I don’t get out of town a lot and I have to lead [00:06:00] my family to do so. So when I do get out of town, I really want it to be a little bit of a vacation and an enjoyable experience. So I pay attention to locale, accommodations, and so forth. So that was all good. The conference hotel was great. I actually stayed a few blocks away in a hotel of my choosing, which was also great, but it was really nice to walk around downtown Chicago.
Now, in terms of the content of the conference, there were a ton of great workshops to choose from. And I had a really hard time picking the ones that I eventually attended, but let me run through those and just offer some reflections.
The first workshop that I attended was one by Kira Armstrong coincidentally like you heard about in the intro. Kira gave a talk on the kids with autism who tend [00:07:00] to get missed. So these are the kids who might fly under the radar a little bit due to any number of circumstances. Maybe they are higher functioning, maybe their parents are higher functioning or somewhat on the spectrum themselves and maybe don’t notice the symptoms for a while in their own kid, any number of reasons, but she gave a really nice talk. I thought it was very applied.
She gave a lot of examples of interview questions to ask, things to look for, and soft signs of autism that we might not pick up on from a standard interview or from the ADOS. And like I said, it was very clinically relevant. So that was a win in my workshop repertoire.
The next one that I attended was a workshop on [00:08:00] the neuroanatomy of sleep. Now, the presenter made a joke about the workshop which is all about sleep being held after lunch for the afternoon session from 2:00 to 5:00 in this really large conference ballroom area. That turned out to be a little bit of foreshadowing. This is, I would say, a really dense presentation. There was indeed a ton of neuroanatomy. And this is the first time that I had an experience with a workshop at this conference that was turned out would be repeated where there was so much good information, but two things happened:
One, I had a really hard time translating all that information into my clinical practice. I [00:09:00] know there are sleep specialists out there and neuropsychologists and other professionals who probably really appreciate that heavy neuroanatomy. For me, it wasn’t quite as easy to apply to my clinical practice.
That point notwithstanding, the slides and the information were really great. I love learning and I was really intent on learning about the neuroanatomy of sleep. However, the presentation was a little tough. The slides were very dense. They, even on the huge ballroom screens that they had, there were these two, probably 20 by 30-foot screens projecting the PowerPoint, even on those screens, the information on the slides was pretty tiny and just hard to read through and hard to navigate and hard [00:10:00] to really understand what was going on. So that turned out to be a tougher presentation with less clinical application.
Now, the next workshop that I attended was the best one of the entire presentation or the entire conference. This is Dean Beebe. He presented on effective report writing. Now, I could do a whole episode on this. In fact, I’m trying to track Dean down and get him to come to do an abbreviated version of this presentation on the podcast. But we’ve talked a lot about report writing in the Facebook group.
This workshop just did a deep dive into the research around report writing. Readability really was a big part of it. So reading level of most of the folks in the United States and how we write our reports in a way that go far above the reading level of most of our [00:11:00] audiences. He presented somewhat surprising research that the average reading level, even of grad students or medical students or medical doctors or professionals falls far below the reading level that we’re writing the reports at. So we just need to tone down our language and make our reports more user-friendly.
So this is a very applied workshop. He gave some great handouts with some really actionable steps to pare down your report, write it in a way that’s more accessible to folks. And he allowed us the opportunity to actually proofread and edit some other report templates, which was awesome. Or actually not even templates, they are real reports that folks had graciously submitted for criticism. So that was really cool. I love that workshop. Best one.
Let’s see. The next workshop that [00:12:00] I attended was a workshop on brain development in neurodevelopmental disorders. Now, this one was another workshop that is very similar to the neuroanatomy of sleep where I was really hoping for a little bit more of an applied angle for the information. It was a lot of slides of brain imaging and a lot of information about brain imaging, which was cool, but there are two things that made it hard:
One is a poor presenter. I think we had to wait for 45 minutes out of the 3-hour presentation for them to figure out some AV issues. So she was very crunched for time and had to skip a lot of the presentation and was really just bouncing through the slides, trying to pick and choose what seemed [00:13:00] like the most important info. So that just from the beginning disrupted the presentation, unfortunately, and just broke up the flow.
Nonetheless, she did a great job pulling it together and I think trying to deliver the most relevant information to us. And at the same time, again, it was a lot of imaging, a lot of information on each slide, hard to see because it was small and our copies of the slides in paper form didn’t have color. So that was hard to check out as well and to understand what was going on in the imaging. So again, I would love to have a little bit more applied info for clinical practice. So that’s something I noticed just for a theme for myself.
The conference wrapped up with what I thought was a very applied workshop that was [00:14:00] more theoretical than anything, but it was still really cool. This workshop was all about disruptive technology in assessment. There were four presenters that broke up the presentation and each took their own part and they each talked about different aspects of technology and how the testing market is ripe for technology to step in.
Now, do we have Q-interactive? Yes. Do we have online questionnaires in a variety of formats and platforms? Yes. But this was really going the next step further. They talked about how a lot of the big tech companies and players in that space are trying to jump in on the assessment market. So companies, of course, like Google and Facebook and Apple, the big tech companies, but also more like consumer tech companies like [00:15:00] Phillips was a big one- they make light bulbs and many other things, but these companies are jumping into the tech space or into the assessment space and really trying to come up with different measures, different ways of delivering measures, different technology to apply to assessment. This is super cool.
So there’s not a whole lot being brought to market right now in its final form, but there are many things on the horizon. So this was just interesting for me. I love technology and I just like to hear about all these different developments that were going on. So, in the next 5 to 10 years, we may see some pretty serious changes to the way that we do assessments. There’s a lot of talk of putting more measures on the iPads and using technology to conduct assessments. [00:16:00] So that was cool.
The conference was really good. Overall, I think going forward, I personally would pick workshops that I could try to identify as more clinically relevant. I do like the research and the information and the theoretical stuff, but where I am now, the practice is interesting to me. So I’ll be looking at that for next year. I haven’t looked up to see where the conference is next year, but I’m assuming it’s going to be in a major city and it’ll be a cool place to visit. So, it’s on the ticket still on the agenda for next year.
Now the conference, just shifting gears, that I just recently got back from was the Group Practice Owners Summit Conference. So this was on the opposite end of the spectrum from the AACN conference. [00:17:00] This was a conference aimed specifically at group practice owners and it was all about the business side of running a practice.
This conference was put on by Maureen Werrbach from The Group Practice Exchange. Some of you are probably part of that Facebook group. And if not, I would definitely check it out. If you’re a group practice owner or aspiring group practice owner, where you have at least one employee beside yourself.
Maureen also hosts The Group Practice Exchange podcast, where I’ve been a guest twice over the years. She’s a friend and it was really just amazing to attend this conference and watch her pull it off. I talked in the beginning about the nature of these conferences and just the flavor of each one. This one was in [00:18:00] many ways the opposite of AACN, so it was a much smaller conference. There were only about 200 attendees. It was also in Chicago but in a northern suburb called Evanston where Northwestern University is.
So a lot more intimate locale, which I loved. Like I said, smaller attendance, smaller workshops, and it was put on by a friend. It was really amazing to see a friend and colleague, a normal person be able to pull this off. It gave me hope to maybe one day pull together a testing psychologist conference after seeing her do this and her business partner, Michael Bloomberg, they both just put in so much effort and really made this thing happen. So this was a fantastic conference.
As you all know, I own a group practice. There are about 15 of us now. I really went to this [00:19:00] one to both learn about all the business pieces, but also because I was invited to speak on adding testing and assessment services to a group practice. So that was really cool. I got to connect with some members of the Facebook group who I’ve never met in person. That was awesome. I got to talk with group practice owners who were interested in assessment, but intimidated by assessment and got to talk them off the ledge a little bit and hopefully created some converts to bring more assessment to some practices around the country.
So that was super cool, but the workshops were really pretty incredible. I attended one workshop on creating an online course. So that’s a little bit of foreshadowing for me and what’s next in The Testing Psychologist World. I’ll be working on a course very soon.
That was great. It was [00:20:00] Katie Keates May. She has an amazing online presence all about running groups in your practice. And now she’s starting to teach others how to create online courses. So that was great. It was cool to meet her in person. That was another piece of all this is just being able to connect with all of my consultant friends that thus far have been online friends, but I got to meet them. IRL as the kids say. So that was awesome.
The next workshop that I attended was all about social media and marketing strategy, content marketing. This was with Robin Ackerman from pop digital marketing. She talked all about how to set up an email list in your practice, why it’s important, what kind of content to send, when to send it, what platforms to use. So this was really important. I’ve talked about building an email list on here briefly on the podcast, but she really did a deep dive.[00:21:00] Honestly, we don’t do a ton of social media or email marketing in our practice, and this really gave me some insight into how to do that and gave me some hope, and also convinced me of the importance of doing email marketing and social media marketing. So that was another pretty amazing workshop.
Let’s see. The next one that I attended was a workshop all about, it was funny, it was a workshop on branding, but the presenter, Samara Stone, an amazing presenter, took it a different direction where she talked about brand through the lens of leadership and how your leadership in your practice is a big part of your branding and how your leadership has to be consistent with your branding.
So when you develop values for your practice, your leadership needs to reflect those [00:22:00] values and those values also become part of your brand. She talked a lot about leadership, a lot about personality style, and different elements of making sure that the way you present your practice to the world fits with what you’re trying to present to the world.
So, if you say that your values are comfort, complete care, and intimate care, then you are running a boutique practice and you don’t want to be housed in this huge office building with a huge practice where there are a lot of people running around and customers or patients aren’t getting very personal care. So again, I learned a lot from this workshop and took a lot away from that to [00:23:00] apply to my practice just as soon as I got back. That was it.
The fourth workshop session was when I was actually presenting. So I didn’t get to attend any others. But honestly, just being a group practice owner, this was a conference that I could have attended every single presentation and taken so much away.
So if you’re a group practice owner and you have any interest in building that business side of things, I would strongly consider going to this conference next year. It’s going to be at the same place. Oh, which I can really talk about.
I loved this little suburb, Evanston. It was still big enough where there was plenty to do: great restaurants, there’s a university, it’s very vibrant, but it was small enough where everything was walkable which I love. It was[00:24:00] close to the lake, so it was very easy to do walks or runs along Lake Michigan on the trail. Again, I like walking and running through college campuses, so I was able to do that. And the hotel was fantastic. It was a really nice hotel. It was right in the middle of everything. So loved the locale.
They’re doing the conference again next year. Registration, let’s see, I think they’re already 10% full. So if you are interested in that, there will be links in the show notes for how to register. I hope to be speaking again. We will see. I was going to submit the applications and hopefully, will be there again and would love to see some of y’all.
So that is my recap of my summer conference attendance. It was awesome. To be [00:25:00] honest, I haven’t done conferences in quite a while. I spent a lot of time and money on individual supervision over the last few years and much smaller training. So this was great to jump back into the conference scene and learn things. I love learning things.
So two very different conferences, both good experiences. I’m keeping both of them certainly on the agenda for next year. And I would recommend that y’all check them out as well.
As I wrap up here, just recapping my calls to action. If you need CEU credits, I never know. Is it CE or CEU? Anyway, CE credits, the podcast episodes are available for CE credits over at athealth.com. You can use the code TTP10 to get a discount on your entire purchase over there.
Also, like I said, [00:26:00] at this point anyway I do have I believe two individual consulting spots open for anyone who’s looking to grow their practice or add testing services to their practice and do it in an efficient, cost-effective, quality way.
All right, y’all. It’s good to be back. Thanks for listening. We’re going to have a nice run of both clinical and business-oriented podcasts over the next two months. So if you haven’t subscribed yet, please do that. You can do that in any podcast app that you’re listening to and you won’t miss an episode from this point forward.
All right, y’all, take care. Talk to you again soon.