October 01, 2016


 Convention reflects changes

​Meet the Experts, CE Pathways new features this year 

Posted Sept. 14, 2016

AVMA Convention 2016, held Aug. 5-9, came and went, and from it conventiongoers walked away with continuing education they can apply at work, better connections with those in the profession, and memories from San Antonio.

New this year was the Meet the Experts roundtable, held Aug. 5. It had 40 discussions in just 20 minutes per round. Attendees could choose three sessions and network with featured speakers. Among them were Dr. Gregory Ogilvie with California Veterinary Specialists, who presented information on advances in cancer immunotherapy; PetEd’s Kara Burns, who gave a talk on nutrition; and the University of Pennsylvania’s Shelley Rankin, PhD, who addressed “Superbugs and Superdrugs.”

Dr. Molly McAllister, chair of the Convention Education Program Committee, said the committee wanted to make the convention more interactive. What better way than allowing attendees a chance to have one-on-one time with speakers they’ve heard but maybe never spoken with. Dr. McAllister said the committee hopes to expand the event next year.

“We are trying to look at the changing needs of the profession. We’ve done things for the same way for a long time, but we are not the same profession we were 20 years ago. We’re trying things out to make a more applicable CE experience,” she said. “This year, we tried to make convention more of an educational program for someone looking to achieve a particular goal rather than having to pick out lectures one at a time.”

One way was by organizing sessions into CE Pathways: Advanced/Master Classes, Branch Your Practice into New Markets, Diseases in Large/Production Animals, Diversity & Inclusion, Students & Early Career, and Wellness. The educational tracks were designed to group CE sessions by various topic and interest areas.

Newly developed practice profitability core sessions were organized by the AVMA Veterinary Economics Strategy Committee. A pilot group comprising teams of owners and managers from 57 practices as well as about 40 conventiongoers completed 16 hours of CE on four topics as part of the Practice Management Section. 

See a breakdown of AVMA Convention 2016 by the number of attendees, continuing education offered, and more.

(click to enlarge)

The program was for practices trying to manage economic stability, understand basic financial diagnostics, and grow revenues—without raising prices—by using data and market information. Presentations comprised proprietary content and training from core partners VMG (finance), Banfield Pet Hospital (workplace culture in operations), and Henry Schein Animal Health (preventive care strategies). The AVMA provided information on four areas of work within its Veterinary Economics Division, from market share to employee compensation.   

VetPartners joined the effort and will provide short-term follow-up with each practice. Twenty-two consultants have signed on to work with up to three practices each in the coming months, and the AVMA will gather outcomes information from these practices on metrics discussed during the core sessions. Approximately 40 practices are on a waiting list for another series of sessions, tentatively scheduled for March 2017, according to Jodie Taggett, AVMA director of partnerships and program development. 

Hot Topic Sessions included genetic testing, post-traumatic stress in military dogs, the health of the veterinary profession, and one health, emerging diseases, and the profession’s role. 

A focus at convention was wellness. In addition to CE sessions, the topic came up during the Keynote Luncheon on Aug. 6 featuring Dan Siegel, MD, an expert on interpersonal neurobiology. He gave the talk “How Understanding the Mind and Cultivating Mindsight Supports Your Well-Being.” Afterward, he hosted a session titled “Cultivating Resilience and a Healthy Mind”; both were sponsored by Hill’s Pet Nutrition. Dr. Siegel described how the mind is more than the brain, and having a greater understanding of its workings has useful clinical and personal implications.

New in the exhibit hall was AVMA Vet Clinic Live, a simulated veterinary clinic advertising new products and services, with product demonstrations and live scenarios. 

The convention app guided attendees throughout convention, whether to find their next session or locate a booth in the exhibit hall. Participants in the new VetAdventure game completed tasks to earn badges entitling them to prizes. Tasks included checking in at CE sessions and with exhibitors and finding hidden logos in the AVMA Convention 2016 Daily News. 

AVMA Convention 2017 will be July 21-25 in Indianapolis. Dr. McAllister said the committee plans to debut poster sessions to give veterinarians and students an opportunity to highlight research or new topics of knowledge. Abstracts for posters or CE sessions can be submitted here.