Why clinicians should attend the PFD conference

Published by Brianna Miluk, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC on Mar 08, 2023

The Pediatric Feeding Disorder conference emphasizes kindness, community and communication

The first time I joined the International Pediatric Feeding Disorder (PFD) Conference, I sat alone in my sunny South Carolina office, anticipating a typical academic research virtual presentation that would count for some CEUs.

Instead, what I found was relatable and practical content that I wanted to share with every clinician I knew.

Brianna Miluk, MS, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC and PFD Conference Committee Member
Brianna Miluk, MS, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC and PFD Conference Committee Member

I’ll never forget a particular workshop by Dr. Kay Toomey on Picky Eaters vs. PFD vs. ARFID: Differential Diagnosis Decision Tree. At one point, I got so excited about the presentation that I leaped out of my chair and clapped enthusiastically. Now, anyone who knows me sees that I have a lot of energy, so this wasn’t totally out of character. Still, I’ll admit I looked a little strange in my office, shouting with glee. When my husband came running, I couldn’t resist exclaiming, “THIS IS SO GOOD!”

It’s no exaggeration to say that the first time I attended the Feeding Matters International Pediatric Feeding Disorder virtual conference in 2018, I was hooked.

The conference isn’t just an opportunity to check off your requirements box for ASHA, AOTA or ACCME. It’s a virtual gathering of clinicians and families all motivated by a singular goal: helping more children and families access the care they need for pediatric feeding disorder.

As part of the conference planning committee for 2023, I can attest that our goal for every presentation is to deliver practical takeaways for families and clinicians. This is part of what makes the PFD conference so powerful.

It’s tricky to organize a virtual conference. Besides any potential technical glitches, creating a sense of community and conversation is challenging. But the PFD conference is unlike any other I’ve attended. There’s a sense of kindness, community, and communication that all attendees feel throughout the program.

Quote pulled from text in graphic on PFD Conference value

What clinicians will benefit from the PFD conference

The PFD conference is ideal for any clinician serving children with feeding issues from birth through adulthood. This includes:

  • Occupational therapists
  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Dieticians
  • Physicians

Because the program is so family-driven, I even encourage caregivers to attend. Everyone benefits when they learn about different methods and what the research shows.

4 reasons to attend the PFD conference

There are many reasons to take time from your busy clinical schedule to attend the conference. The following are just a few.

Learn practical, innovative interventions and strategies – and how to apply them with families
Like any continuing education, the pediatric feeding disorder conference highlights the latest research and interventions. This conference is different because the presenters go one step further to show how to apply that information to our day-to-day work. Every course I attended focused on how an intervention is only as good as it is for an individual family. As a speech therapist, I see how this mindset matters. I can have all the research in the world at my fingertips, but it’s not practical if none of it works for the family in front of me. That clear focus across all the workshops means that at the PFD conference, I can walk away with strategies to apply immediately.

Build connections across fields
Making friends and forging new professional relationships is not usually a goal for a virtual conference, but that’s what happened at the PFD conference. The chat is active, and the people are friendly. I’ve made real-life friendships with clinicians in my area. I would never have met them outside of that opportunity.

When providers of various backgrounds work together, patients benefit.

Become a stronger advocate for clients
The PFD conference has helped me grow both in my practice and as a patient advocate. I’ve gained knowledge and leadership skills that help me articulate what my clients need, especially when working with other clinicians who aren’t as familiar with PFD and the diagnostic code.

Each year, I leave with a strong call to action to continue advocating for children with PFD and their families. The conference empowers clinicians to hold each other accountable for higher standards of care.

Raise awareness of how trauma-informed care relates to PFD
I’m most excited about this year’s conference’s keynote address, Healing Feeding Trauma: It takes a village, from Dr. Anka Roberto DNP, MSN-MPH, APRN, PMHNP-BC. Bridging the gap in education on how trauma-informed care is essential to treatment for PFD is so important. Spotlighting this topic as the keynote underscores how important it is to heal feeding trauma for the child and the entire family unit.

Every year I’ve attended the PFD conference is better than the last. I don’t doubt that this year’s 10th annual conference will be the best one yet. See you at the conference!

The 10th annual international PFD virtual conference is April 13-15. Register, see our schedule and speaker roster and more here.

Brianna (Bri) Miluk is a speech-language pathologist and certified lactation counselor in Greenville, South Carolina. She has a clinical focus on pediatric feeding and swallowing in infant and medically complex patient populations. Bri is an advocate for information literacy, evidence-based practice, and trauma-informed care, including neurodiversity-affirming practices. She is also an Instructor for Pennsylvania Western University. She is a PhD student with a research focus on disseminating or research and misinformation in speech language pathology on social media. She hosts the podcast, The Feeding Pod, and teaches the Pediatric Feeding Mentorship Group course. Follow her on Instagram @pediatricfeedingslp.