Kimberly Marselas

This Sunday night, I’ll be joining thousands of you pouring into Washington, D.C., for the 72nd annual American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living convention and expo.

As I think ahead to packing and try to come up with a manageable agenda for my days in the convention hall, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about this return to the In Real Life (or, as the kids say, IRL) professional world.

Though we’ve all been penned up for much of the last two years, I have been out of the conference scene a little longer than most.

My last convention was in New Orleans way back in 2008, when I couldn’t even partake in a rum-based hurricane because I was pregnant with my first child. I now have a teenager at home.

After 10 years as a budget-conscious freelancer, I’m back to having an employer who understands the value of networking and will pay for me to get into the same room as national power players, in-building decision-makers and those of you who are just there to see how your peers have aged over the stress-packed last two years.

So I’m headed back, looking to extend my knowledge of the industry and to finally start meeting some of the very many sources I’ve interviewed since first starting to write for McKnight’s almost a decade ago, most of that as a freelancer who didn’t travel.

Maybe you’re also a little anxious about navigating a show again, whether because of continued concerns about COVID or because you know you won’t have time to get to all the sessions you need in a few short days.

That’s really the struggle here, isn’t it? Even those of us who are more eager than nervous about getting back to business again struggle with the pervasive Fear of Missing Out (or, as the kids say, FOMO).

With so many great speakers from organizations large and small, how can you tell which presentations will best meet your needs? My struggle will be determining who has unique perspectives or ideas that challenge fellow providers to dig deeper on the issues skilled nursing must continue to confront.

We know many of you are still sitting out the travel season, whether due to the pandemic or needing all-hands on deck inside your short-staffed facilities. The McKnight’s team will be working double-time to bring you news you can use while we have prime speakers at our fingertips.

But I’m still hoping for some helpful insider insights. 

Have some divide-and-conquer strategies? Want to talk about a session you found helpful or one you’re presenting? Look for me or one of my McKnight’s colleagues in D.C. We’ll be rotating between the McKnight’s booth (No. 1347 — you might find me behind a microphone recording a podcast) and running the halls. 

Let’s just hope I remember to pack comfortable shoes.

Kimberly Marselas is senior editor of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News columns are not necessarily those of McKnight’s.