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How to Plan and Organize an ELNEC Course

You already have the course objectives, outline, PowerPoint slides, case studies, and the world’s most thorough reference list. You may be feeling confident about teaching the ELNEC content, but it is the planning and organizing of the actual course that has you bewildered.

Here are some steps to assist you in preparing to present the course. These are simply ideas. No matter what size your class will be, there are some basic preparatory steps to take.

I. What size will your class be? Ten? Two-hundred?

  • Reserve a room that will accommodate the number of people you will have
  • Will you be advertising the course for others in your community to attend? If so, how many from your institution/organization do you expect? How many extra seats will you have for those from the outside?
  • Reserve your AV needs (i.e. overhead projector, LCD, flip chart, etc.)

II. Will this be a “training” course or a “train-the-trainer” course?

Any educational activity that utilizes ELNEC materials, includes all nine ELNEC modules, and consists of a minimum of one hour per module for a total of nine hours is considered “ELNEC Training.” A “Train-the-Trainer” course is designed to teach a group of professional nurses to become trainers of the ELNEC curriculum. As with the “training” course, all nine modules must be covered, with a minimum of one hour devoted to content. In addition, roughly one hour should be devoted to teaching strategies and resources for each module. Requests to host either of these courses are individually considered, and courses are planned in close collaboration with the ELNEC Project Office. Sponsorship of trainer courses is not authorized unless prior coordination has occurred with the ELNEC Project Office. (Please refer to “Use of ELNEC Materials” on the ELNEC website or in the ELNEC syllabus).

III. Charging a registration fee? 

For those attending from outside your organization, you will need to charge a fee to reimburse for expenses. How do you know what to charge? Look at flyers from other conferences that have been held at your institution or around your community. What is the “going rate?” Make sure you cover your costs. Here are some costs that may be associated with your course:

  • Reproducing the binder: Will you be reproducing only the PowerPoint notes and case studies or will you be printing and copying the entire syllabus? Costs for reproducing the entire syllabus can range from between $65-$100 per binder. It may be cheaper to reproduce the 1,000+ page syllabus at your institution versus a name-brand copy center. Check on these prices before setting your conference fee. (If you are doing a train-the-trainer course, you will need to reproduce the entire syllabus). Remember to order binders, binder tabs, and cover inserts as well.
  • Curriculum: Will you be providing the CD or flashdrive to all of your participants? Again, prices vary: $3.00-$10.00 per CD. Check with your institution, as well as some internet, AV, media vendors.
  • Food: Don’t forget the food! This is important; however, it can be costly. So plan accordingly when pricing out this project. Check with drug representatives or homecare/medical equipment companies to partner with you in providing a continental breakfast and/or lunch.
  • Honorarium for additional faculty: Will you be bringing in other ELNEC trainers to assist you in teaching this course? Check ELNEC website directory for a trainer near you.
  • Conference Room: Take into account charges for training/conference room, breakout room, AV equipment?
  • Advertising: If you want to invite other nurses from your community, then you must advertise. Advertising costs vary depending on how wide of an audience you are trying to reach. Check with local nursing journals, local/state-wide nursing specialty organizations (i.e. HPNA, ONS, APHON) about advertising in their newsletters and websites. Roll the cost of your advertisement into the registration fee. Begin advertising 3-4 months before the course.

IV. Know your audience. 

Will your course be filled with new graduate nurses or with nurses experienced in end-of-life/palliative care? It is so important to know who you will be teaching and to plan your lectures accordingly.

V. Organize your course. 

Keep in mind that some modules may be more difficult than others. For example, teaching the Pain module late in the afternoon may not be best- especially if you follow it with the Symptom Management Module. These two modules can be “heavy,” depending on your audience. Putting these two modules on separate days may be a better idea. What is going to happen after lunch? Remember, people can become sleepy right after eating. So plan some interaction with your audience (i.e. case studies, role plays, etc.) right after lunch.

VI. First impressions are important! 

You only have one opportunity to make a first impression and you want it to be excellent! Be confident as you introduce yourself and make your opening remarks. If you are running late and are busy setting up the LCD five minutes after your class was to start, this does not give your participants a good impression. So arrive early to make sure the room has the appropriate number of tables and chairs and that your AV equipment is ready to go. The day before your course, you should double check with:

  • Housekeeping: Room will be cleaned and tables scrubbed. Don’t forget the bathrooms.
  • AV-personnel: AV needs will be delivered and set up 30 minutes prior to the course starting.
  • Caterer: Food will arrive 30 minutes prior to the course (the smell of coffee is inviting).
  • Registration table: Be organized. Make sure those working at the table are fully prepared to answer any questions and that they are friendly! Again, first impression is important!!!

VII. Who will be issuing your CE’s? 

Remember your objectives are already written for each module so do not reinvent the wheel.

VIII. Remember to check with the ELNEC Project Office once you have a date and location for your course. 

A Notification Form needs to be filled out by the trainer and returned to the ELNEC Project Office. This is important in that it allows us to not only know about your course but to advertise it for you free of charge on the website and in the newsletter. This form may be electronically downloaded. If you have additional questions, contact Pam Malloy at pmalloy@aacnnursing.org or at 202-463-6930, ext. 238.

IX. Feel confident in what you are doing. 

You spent three days reviewing/learning this curriculum. Review your notes from when you were at the “train-the-trainer” course. Organize your case studies. Prepare to the best of your ability. When you go in to teach, you will have the confidence of knowing you prepared your best! Draw from your many experiences. You have stories to tell that can bring life to your lectures. Use them! Another helpful hint is to insert photographs into your presentation. This breaks up the text slides you have. Your audience will want to see you engaging and enjoying the content you are sharing. The information in these modules is timely—healthcare providers want this material and they have a real need to understand and implement it.

X. At the conclusion of your course, be sure to have every participant fill out an evaluation. 

This is important. Read them and learn from them. Fill out a “lessons learned” while the course is still fresh in your mind. What worked really well and what did not? When you are asked to teach this course again, you will have your “lessons learned” as a reminder of how to improve the course. Don’t forget to check the ELNEC website frequently. The Connections newsletter has numerous stories from trainers and how they have taught the curriculum. You can get some great ideas!