A volunteer visits with a cat during the American Veterinary
Medical Foundation's project to help refurbish four animal
shelters in the New Orleans area.
Veterinarians contributed to a community, learned about medical and professional issues, and enjoyed themselves all at once this year at the 145th AVMA Annual Convention, July 19-22 in New Orleans.
Attendees assisted in the area's ongoing recovery from Hurricane Katrina through their tourist dollars and volunteer work. They participated in hundreds of continuing education sessions within dozens of concurrent tracks. They enjoyed special events at the convention center and headquarters hotel as well as numerous attractions in the surrounding neighborhoods, including the restaurants of the historic French Quarter.
"From the Opening Session to the Final Fling, there was something for everyone," said Dr. Gregory S. Hammer, AVMA immediate past president. "We had an outstanding group of speakers that provided every attendee something to take home and use immediately. New Orleans gave us great entertainment, superb dining, and friendly, genuine hospitality."
The convention attracted 7,888 attendees. The total included 3,190 veterinarians, 509 veterinary students, and 341 veterinary technicians and technician students.
Even before the convention began, many attendees participated in a two-day "voluntourism" project to refurbish four local animal shelters. The American Veterinary Medical Foundation organized the project to put the Veterinarian's Oath in action by combining tourism with volunteerism (see page 686
Hill's Pet Nutrition sponsored the Opening Session to kick off the convention. The keynote speaker was Cokie Roberts, a journalist for National Public Radio and ABC News. She told tales of family pets, her parents' political careers, the women who shaped the country, and her native New Orleans.
The convention featured about 600 speakers and more than 1,200 continuing education sessions. The CE program ran four days this year, rather than four and a half days, and offered eight 50-minute time blocks each day, rather than four 90-minute time blocks. Programming for veterinarians included interactive labs, skills workshops, practice tips, lunchtime learning, and sunrise CE.
The One Medicine CE track offered sessions every day this year relevant to the connections between veterinary and human medicine. Sessions covered subjects such as disease surveillance, pandemic influenza, food safety in a global market, and the interrelationships between pet and owner health.
Every night at the convention offered some form of entertainment. The musical group Lifehouse performed Saturday as part of the second annual Merial Concert Series. Sunday's Bayer Bayou Bash featured a Mardi Gras-style parade as well as jesters, jugglers, and artists. The veterinary colleges' alumni receptions were on Monday night, and comedian Rocky LaPorte performed Tuesday night for the Fort Dodge Final Fling.
Throughout the convention, the exhibit hall highlighted the latest products and services available to veterinary professionals. The hall showcased more than 300 exhibitors, including a wide variety of companies along with nonprofit organizations such as veterinary associations and government groups.
Attendees kept up with convention news and other topics of interest by reading the AVMA Annual Convention Daily News and watching the AVMA Convention News television program, which were available at the convention center and at certain hotels. Fort Dodge and Subaru of North America sponsored the daily TV show.
In Association business, Dr. James O. Cook assumed the AVMA presidency, succeeding Dr. Hammer. The AVMA House of Delegates elected Dr. Larry R. Corry as president-elect and Dr. Gary S. Brown as vice president. Dr. Larry M. Kornegay declared his candidacy for 2009-2010 president-elect, and Dr. Brown declared his candidacy for another term as vice president. The AVMA Executive Board elected Dr. David L. McCrystle as its new chair and Dr. Douglas G. Aspros as vice chair.
The AVMA House of Delegates approved a variety of policies. One policy calls for veal calf housing systems that allow greater freedom of movement. Another policy directs the AVMA to increase the Association's involvement with veterinary students. Just after the convention, the Executive Board recommended that the HOD elect AVMA officers during the regular winter session rather than in the summer. Turn to page 685 for coverage of HOD actions and to page 697 for more details about board actions.
Dr. James E. Creed, chair of the AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee, summarized the convention by saying that the venue was excellent. He added that attendees did not see any damage from Hurricane Katrina in the downtown area of New Orleans.
"Attendance was a bit disappointing—but expected, given concerns about the overall economy, New Orleans as a destination in July, and the cost of travel," Dr. Creed said. "The Convention Management and Program Committee and the AVMA Convention and Meeting Planning Division staff are to be commended for attending to all the intricate details involved with putting on another great convention."
Convention coverage continues on page 694. 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.