There’s really nothing like a conference to make you feel like you’ve jumped into the deep end of your chosen profession. Hopefully, once you’re there, you realize that the water’s fine, and you’re able to learn a ton; meet a bunch of smart, like-minded people; and walk away with a renewed sense of passion and excitement for your work.

This year marks the 10th annual HEALTHCARE DESIGN Conference (November 3-6, Phoenix), and I can’t wait. We’re expecting more than 4,000 of you to immerse yourselves in the staggering line-up of sessions and events. It’s always a good idea to establish a game plan before you attend any industry event, and maybe set a few goals for yourself based on the question: “What do I hope to bring back to the office?” You might want to consider some of these new features and events, which the conference team has added to round out this year’s experience:

The Patient Experience Simulation Lab: I’ve never been disappointed after participating in a hands-on workshop at a conference, because it’s an ideal way to meet new people and learn by doing. The Institute for Patient-Centered Design has created a new workshop for the HEALTHCARE DESIGN Conference where you get to tackle realistic patient scenarios within a full-scale model of a patient room. Playing a host of different roles (from patient to family member to caregiver), participants will then collaborate to identify critical design considerations. You have several opportunities each day to take part in this research project; go to the conference website for details and times.

Research track: We’ve always included research-focused sessions in the conference program, but this year, we have an entire track devoted to the topic. It’s a great way for attendees with more advanced industry knowledge to go in-depth into this critical aspect of informed, effective design.

Theater presentations from vendors: Don’t expect any kabuki. (At least, I don’t think so.) What you will see are 30-minute, sponsored product demos in a dedicated area in the exhibit hall. 

Golf outing: Networking ranks very high on the list of reasons to attend a conference, and golf ranks high on a lot of people’s lists of reasons to live. Get both—for free—on Saturday, November 3, at the Ocotillo Golf Resort. Go to the Networking section of the conference website for details.

What else is new? Well… me. I’m eager to meet our readers, contributors, and other industry luminaries and collect a suitcase full of business cards. So if you see me, say hello, and help me meet my own conference goals.