September 15, 2010


 AVMA lands in the Peach Tree State

Atlanta convention strikes balance between learning and fun

By R. Scott Nolen 

Posted Sept. 1, 2010

Veterinary professionals gathered in Atlanta for the 147th AVMA Annual Convention July 31-Aug. 3.

In the Georgia World Congress Center, located in the heart of downtown Atlanta and a short walk from many of the city's attractions, the exhibit hall housed 262 booths offering an array of veterinary products and services. Many sponsors supported the AVMA convention, notably P3 Partners Hill's Pet Nutrition and Merial.  

Those attending the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta found a balance between education and entertainment. 

The AVMA's educational program comprised 1,119 presentations covering a range of veterinary topics for a total of 984 continuing education hours.

Kelly Fox, director of the AVMA Convention and Meeting Planning Division, said making a convention the size of the AVMA's happen is the result of a collaborative effort.

"It's a credit to the Convention and Meeting Planning Committee that they developed relevant programming that is highly valuable to the entire veterinary team," Fox said. "In addition to the excellent educational sessions, we improved our registration processes as well as our social events. We are trying to make it easier for everyone to participate in the convention, from registration through to the end of the convention. I think attendees were pleased with the changes they saw this year."

Dr. James E. Creed, CMPC chair, credited Southern hospitality and the work of AVMA staff and the Georgia VMA for the convention's success. "The quality of the AVMA's continuing education program most certainly drew veterinarians, veterinary technicians, and students to our convention," Dr. Creed added.

In addition to the CE program, the AVMA convention provided entertainment for the whole family. Comedian Tom Papa, host of NBC's "The Marriage Ref," headlined the Bayer Comedy Kickoff July 30 while Grammy Award-winning rockers Train played to a capacity crowd at the fourth annual Merial Concert Series July 31.

The AVMA, together with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation and Auxiliary to the AVMA, hosted a sold-out A Night at the Aquarium at the Georgia Aquarium Aug. 1. The aquarium is home to more than 100,000 aquatic animals, including beluga whales, penguins, and whale sharks.

The AVMA continues to give back to convention sites. On July 31, dozens of volunteers helped fix up Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta and Our Pal's Place in Marietta as part of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation's third annual Our Oath in Action shelter rehabilitation project.

"We were able to dismantle, clean, paint and reassemble dog cages at Our Pal's Place," said Cindy�Rutkowski, AVMF services and projects manger. "We … painted outside windows, cleared brush in preparation for building outside dog runs in two separate areas. We even painted the side of a house on the outside. At Fulton County we were able to paint two adoption rooms."

The Hill's Opening Session July 31 began with presentations of the AVMA Award—the Association's highest honor—to Dr. Leon H. Russell Jr. for his contributions to organized veterinary medicine and the Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Practitioner of the Year to Dr. Kenneth C. Gorczyca in recognition of his efforts to preserve relationships between humans and companion animals.

Following the presentations, wildlife biologist and television host Jeff Corwin took the stage along with his menagerie that included a 6-foot American alligator and a 100-pound alligator snapping turtle. Corwin incorporated the animals—and a few audience members—into his educational talk about the importance of wildlife conservation.

AVMA members had the opportunity to hear about the latest AVMA initiatives and pose questions to Association leaders and staff during AVMA Live—a town hall-type forum held twice during convention. The AVMA Advocacy series focused on the need for veterinarians to engage in the legislative process at the federal and state levels, while at the sixth annual Veterinary Diversity Symposium, strategies for making the veterinary profession more inclusive were discussed.

Haiti's head veterinarian, Dr. Max Millien, spoke at the Global Opportunities in One Health workshop about his country's long struggle with rabies and other animal health issues. The Oct. 1 JAVMA News will feature in-depth coverage of Dr. Millien's talk, AVMA Live, and additional convention highlights.

Coverage of the 2010 annual regular session of the AVMA House of Delegates starts on page 602. Reports from veterinary organizations that met at convention will run in the Oct. 15 issue.