September 01, 2006


 AVMA Annual Convention breaks attendance record

Paradise setting, educational opportunities lure veterinarians

Posted August 15, 2006 

Registering more than 10,000 total attendees, the 143rd AVMA Annual Convention was the highest attended convention in Association history.

The second highest-attended convention was in Denver in 2003 with 9,314 attendees.

The 2006 convention was held July 15-19 at the Hawaii Convention Center in Honolulu. For the fourth consecutive year, more than 4,000 veterinarians were in attendance.


The convention's tropical paradise setting was partly responsible for attracting such a large crowd. Marked Hawaii's most popular island, Oahu offered attendees snorkeling, hiking, surfing, and shopping just a few minutes away. A handful of AVMA-organized tours were also at attendees' disposal.

"It was a great opportunity for people to be able to attend an AVMA meeting and, at the same time, have an opportunity to explore a part of the world they probably had not seen before, and to enjoy each other's company," said Dr. Henry E. Childers, AVMA immediate past president.

Parallel to the paradise setting was the availability of 1,046 hours of high-quality continuing education at convention, in addition to 21 interactive labs. Companion animal medicine and personal and professional development were popular sections, tallying a combined 497 hours.

Attendees could also visit the exhibit hall to learn about the latest products and services. Continuing education theaters were new to the exhibit hall in 2006. The sessions covered a variety of topics, from personal finance to equine influenza to the reemergence of canine leptospirosis. Also in the hall, Merial Ltd. sponsored Aloha Activities, which featured lively Hawaiian and Polynesian entertainment such as native dancing.

Of the more than 10,000 attendees at convention, approximately 450 were from Pacific Rim countries. To accommodate the attendees, the AVMA provided four days of educational programs sequentially translated into Chinese Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean.

Sponsored by Novartis Animal Health, the AVMA Welcome Center supplied information on Hawaii. The center was staffed by volunteers from the Hawaii VMA. Several translators were on site.

Attendees received convention news through the AVMA Convention News Network, which aired 24 hours a day. The TV shows were viewed on plasma screens throughout the convention center and in select convention hotels. Fort Dodge Animal Health was the title sponsor of the shows, and Subaru of America Inc. was the supporting sponsor.

The second Veterinary Diversity Symposium was another convention highlight. The full-day event featured keynote speaker Robert DiMarzo, MBA, who talked about leveraging diversity and inclusion for a competitive advantage in the global marketplace. DiMarzo is president of U.S. operations for Pfizer Animal Health, which sponsored the symposium.

In addition to the continuing education sessions, a host of special events surrounded convention. Taking advantage of the surroundings, organizers held the sunrise Opening Ceremony on Fort DeRussy Beach Park. Sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc., the event provided attendees with breakfast and traditional Hawaiian dancing. Several individuals were honored during the ceremony for their contributions to the veterinary profession.

The sold-out Family Night, sponsored by Bayer Animal Health, was a hit among attendees, who were greeted at Fort DeRussy Beach Park with leis before feasting on a buffet of Hawaiian fare. There were arts and crafts demonstrations, including fresh flower and haku lei making, as well as temporary-tattoo booths. Live, traditional island music and hula and fire-knife dancers supplied additional entertainment.

Dr. Roger K. Mahr assumed the AVMA presidency, succeeding Dr. Henry E. Childers. The AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Gregory S. Hammer as president-elect and Dr. Charles M. Hendrix as vice president. Meanwhile, Dr. James O. Cook announced his candidacy for 2007 AVMA president-elect; several days later, he became the new Executive Board chair.

During its session, which overlapped with the first day of convention, the House of Delegates voted on eight resolutions. Several resolutions dealt with animal welfare issues, while three of the resolutions addressed AVMA financial policies. Another resolution called for the HOD to hold an official business session at the AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference each year, beginning in January 2008. Another resolution would urge the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to implement ongoing training programs for accredited veterinarians in the United States. Turn to article for full coverage of the House of Delegates, with coverage of resolutions starting on article.

Dr. Dennis McCurnin, chair of the AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee, said that the 2006 convention was one of the best AVMA meetings he has ever attended. "Everyone needs to get geared up for the Washington, D.C., meeting next July as it may just break the new attendance record set this year," he said.

Convention coverage continues on article. More coverage will follow in the Sept. 15 issue of JAVMA News, and reports from veterinary organizations that met at convention will appear in the Oct. 1 issue.