How to Afford Professional Development?

Last updated 5/21/2024

I have been extremely lucky to attend some really big conferences as part of my continuing professional development (CPD) over the last 17 years. Some examples being the Dietitian Association of Australia’s National Annual Conference, New Zealand’s Joint Nutrition Society of Australia and Nutrition Society of New Zealand Annual Scientific Meeting.

This was possible because I applied for grants which funded my airfares and accommodations whilst the department I worked for funded my registration.

Whilst I know I have been very privileged to have these opportunities previously, I also know that when you are working for yourself, there is no boss funding your great plans to attend everything that you are attracted too. Therefore, you need to be picky about what you do for your development for the year and make sure it is aligned with you and your goals.

That is why I put together some ideas on how those of you in private practice can factor in big ticket CPD in the years to come!

  1. Save your tax return for CPD, or a portion of it: Having your own business, there are so many things you can put against your business which should hopefully give you a nice surprise at the end of the financial year. If so, have you considered putting some aside for CPD?
  2. Put some money aside every month: Have you thought about opening up a separate savings bank account for CPD and contributing to it monthly, a bit like a layby in advance?
  3. Apply for a scholarship: I successfully applied for and received a scholarship one year to attend the OSSANZ Conference. If you work in a specialised area and there is an event specific to your area of work, can you apply for a scholarship through them? A list of scholarships and grants available through DAA is currently listed here
  4. The Nutrition Society: TNS is offering conference grants to those who are members who can least afford scientific meetings and conferences worldwide. Preference is given to members who are undergraduates doing their first degree, MSc students or PhD students or those who are in early stages of their career, ie have less than 10 years’ experience. More information can be found here.
  5. Incorporate attendance fees in DAA annual membership: Maybe if you know it’s something you want to attend, DAA could account for this when we pay our annual membership fee and somehow incorporate it into our membership if we elect too. For those that pay via instalments, adding the additional cost through 4 quarterly payments would take the pressure off somewhat.
  6. Billeting: Accommodation can be quite costly for 3-4 nights as well as the cost of food being purchased on the go and out for nearly half a week as well. Think Air BnB for Dietitians at the conference, Newcastle Dietitian Roberta Asher proposed a billeting system in that other dietitians in the local area could offer a bedroom to fellow dietitians wishing to attend. Wouldn’t that be nice?
  7. Reciprocal arrangements: If there is an area of interest you want to upskill in, can you offer something of value from your knowledge base and use it as a two-way street to learn from each other? This doesn’t apply so much to big ticket events but can help with your CPD throughout the year.
  8. Present/Posters: Use this as an opportunity to present on research that you have been apart of or to develop a poster presentation as you are much more likely to get funding to attend if you hare contributing in some way.
  9. Sponsors: Has anyone thought of approaching the sponsors or companies that are apart of the trade show and asking them if they need assistance to man their stalls and if so, you would be able to it for the three days of the conference if you could come to an arrangement regarding being sponsored to attend or if they were in agreeance to cover 50% registration costs. Any financial contribution helps, in this arrangement you are swapping your time for their money.
  10. DAA Branch Continuing Education Grants: Each state or territory branch usually has an allowance for CPD which can be offered to members. The opportunities are usually advertised in relation to each event or you can contact your branch directly for more information.
  11. FNCE grants: In the United States the DBC members can apply for grants to go to FNCE in person. Click here to learn more information.
  12. CDR Scholarship: CDR offers a variety of scholarships for Registered Dietitian’s looking to expand their knowledge. Click here to learn more.
  13.  FREE CEU resources: There is a whole list of free ceu resources that the Academy put together to help you save money and learn more as a Dietitian. Get access to it here.

I hope there are some ideas here that are of interest to some of you or inspire you to keep your eye out for upcoming grants and scholarships. 

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