September 21-23, 2021
Austin Convention Center | Austin, TX

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Industry News for the entire team who designs, plans, constructs and manages healthcare facilities

The Leaflet Article


The Symposium Conference Program

Jenabeth Ferguson, Vice President, Symposium Director

This is one of my favorite times of year! The holidays are wonderful of course. But what I’m really referring to is the time when the conference program for the Symposium is a blank slate. I’m often asked how our conference program is put together so I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some insights into our process. We have a call for papers whereby industry experts submit session ideas and we receive hundreds of submissions from design firms, health systems, contractors, engineers, researchers, manufacturers and nonprofits. In addition, along with our advisory board, I actively recruit the right speakers to submit proposals for innovation sessions. We have a list of criteria and standards for submissions to meet, but we also keep ourselves open to off the wall ideas, which often times become the sessions that knock it out of the park.

Our most important criteria is that a submission for a case study which highlights a specific project or projects must include a representative from the client side. This started as a “suggestion” about 6 years ago and is now a hard and fast rule. What we heard repeatedly from our conferees was that designers did not just want to hear from designers and they did not want to just see a bunch of pretty pictures. What was truly valuable to them was hearing how the design impacted patient care, hospital operations and staff efficiency. What we’ve learned is that sessions that highlight lessons learned and are not afraid to admit mistakes are always the best received.

Another key development as the Symposium has grown is that we have evolved into THE industry event for THE entire design team. This means anyone who sits around the table during a project needs to be at our event and we need to offer education for them. While this is one of our biggest challenges as we balance the program to meet a lot of needs, it is also one of the best opportunities for us to create a unique educational experience. What I hear from all segments is that they all want to learn how the other folks work and what is important to them. This is why we look for sessions that have representatives from all the facility stakeholders.

Every time I am asked “how do I get to be a part of your program” (and I am asked that a lot) the points that I emphasized above are what I always focus on first. We steadfastly adhere to our criteria and high standards in order to consistently deliver the most respected conference program in the industry. So now is when the whole conference creation process begins again for the 2013 Symposium…with a clean and empty slate. And when the slate is ultimately filled in it represents, not only months of hard work, but a determined and deliberate strategy of sticking to our key criteria and high standards in order to deliver another stellar educational program to serve you and our incredible industry.

Jenabeth Ferguson
Vice President, Symposium Director
Healthcare Facilities Symposium & Expo

Medical Construction & Design
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