When the International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN) decided to move its annual in-person conference, originally slated to take place in Palm Springs, California, in late September 2020 to a virtual setting, organizers knew one thing for certain — their members didn’t have the luxury to sit in front of a computer for anything other than educational content.
While many organizers have opted to hold their virtual events live over the original in-person event dates, IAFN organizers chose to start on the first day of the originally planned event, Sept. 23 — but extend the program over more than 10 weeks, concluding the program on Dec. 7. “Knowing that they were on the frontline, we wanted to give them plenty of time,” said Pam Bruggeman, CMP, meetings and events manager for IAFN.
Though most content was pre-recorded and available on-demand throughout the course of the virtual event, Bruggeman injected the program with some moments of interactivity — like “Meet the Expert” panels with live Q&A — to help attendees feel engaged, but recognized that they were squeezing in 90-plus educational sessions that could earn them Certified Nursing Education credits (CNEs) on nights and weekends. The program offered trivia nights and live yoga sessions, as well as a virtual scavenger hunt, but Bruggeman learned that IAFN members were far more interested in getting their CNEs than participating in those kinds of activities.
At the in-person event, nurses can earn approximately 26 CNEs. At this year’s virtual event, more than 100 CNEs were made available, and attendees took advantage of the opportunity — close to 100 of the event’s 1,860 attendees earned an upwards of 90 CNEs during the course of the online event.
Whereas only 34 attendees participated in the scavenger hunt. “I was shocked,” Bruggeman said. “I know a lot of other groups do a lot of live happy hours and a lot of different, exciting things. We didn’t really have that — [our participants] are really looking for that content. They’re a different breed, they have different needs.”