The[PACK]out Reflection


This past week, healthcare packaging professionals came together at thePACKout for two and a half days of collaboration, learning, and excitement. I had the fortune of attending, thanks to the generous support and sponsorship of Oliver Healthcare Packaging. As a Graphic Communication student at Cal Poly, my experience with healthcare packaging has been fairly limited, but through this conference, I was fully immersed into this fascinating and innovative industry. With 53 speakers, 34 unique sessions, and 31 vendors, this event was an absolute trove of knowledge. I would be remiss not to mention the incredible networking opportunities which included a pickleball competition and a lovely evening cruise. As a conference made for packaging professionals, by packaging professionals, I learned from my fellow attendees early on that there is really nothing else quite like thePACKout, and they were absolutely right!

ThePACKout kicked off with an inspiring keynote from Jodi Glickman about the importance of networking and how to network in a genuine and strategic manner. Jodi’s reframing of networking as “giving, not getting,” set the tone for an overall theme of collaboration that I felt was present throughout the entire conference. There was no shortage of opportunities to meet new people and build connections, and I was immediately struck by how friendly and supportive everyone was. 

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Beyond the chance to make interpersonal connections, thePACKout was full of incredible learning opportunities. The first day continued with industry specific events including an insightful panel on overcoming supply chain challenges and a usability panel that featured healthcare workers who spoke on aseptic presentation and various usability challenges. Presentations like these exemplified how collaboration both within the healthcare packaging industry and collaborations in the broader healthcare sphere can be an incredible tool. 


Day two brought us more specific and technical knowledge as the activities for the day were divided into tracks where multiple speakers would present on specific topic areas. I chose to attend the tracks for usability, process, sustainability, and design—they certainly did not disappoint. The usability track hit close to home as it began with discussions of collaboration starting at the college level between packaging programs and nursing programs. The process track was full of innovative new ideas and procedures to eliminate common errors, including how AI and machine learning can be utilized. As someone so new to this field, I enjoyed being able to learn about what problems are common in areas like tray sealing and kitting, while at the same time learning how they can be addressed. After a lunch break filled with more wonderful conversations and connections, I headed to the sustainability track. This track encouraged us to rethink our approach to sustainability with new tactics to employ green initiatives at every level of a system.  It ended with discussion around upcoming policy and an impactful call to action that it is time to take the leap towards a more sustainable future. The last track of the day for me was the design track, where many usability principles came into play as speakers discussed how to design with the end user in mind. 


The final day brought us all together for a zoo-themed packaging competition—honestly, I had no idea a conference could be so fun! We were divided into teams and worked together to make decisions about how to create packaging for a series of unique products. I enjoyed getting to see how people collaborated by combining knowledge for their different areas of expertise. Each perspective made our team stronger as we discussed approaches to each problem. 


My experience at thePACKout was truly amazing, and I am incredibly grateful to Oliver Healthcare Packaging for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I came away from the conference with an understanding of what a collaborative and innovative industry looks like in action. I’m excited to see what the future brings for this incredible industry, and hope to find my place in it. 

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