A fine time in Beantown

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Without a doubt, the 2001 AVMA Annual Convention, July 14-18 in Boston, was a success. Nearly 8,000 people were drawn to the cosmopolitan setting to build on their skills and knowledge of veterinary medicine. The weather was accommodating, allowing attendees and their families to comfortably move about the historic city, seeing the sights, enjoying great food, and taking in Boston's bustling nightlife.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony
Dr. Jan E. Bartels of the Executive Board gets a hand from Dr. Dennis M. McCurnin, chair of the Convention Management and Program Committee, in the ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the opening of the exhibit hall.

The AVMA had a lot to offer this year. The continuing education sessions are still a big hit, as are the wet labs. Experts spoke on a number of veterinary-related topics, from bioterrorism to shelter animal medicine. The wet labs were a chance for veterinarians and veterinary technicians to brush up on their skills in a range of areas, including dentistry, lasers, and ultrasound techniques. There were 493 speakers on the 2001 Educational Program and a total of 41 hours of CE available—that's up from 35 hours of CE last year. Attendees could choose from approximately 950 sessions.

This year's registrants included 3,416 veterinarians, 1,130 spouses, guests, and children age 18 or over, 754 children under 18 years, 469 veterinary technicians, 322 veterinary students, 46 veterinary technician students, and 88 nonveterinarian office managers and staff. Also, 351 spaces were sold for 262 booths that were staffed by 1,342 exhibitors.

Maestro Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, entertained and inspired the crowd during the General Session, co-sponsored by Bayer Corp. and Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc., and was followed by the musical stylings of the Marlins. For Family Night, also co-sponsored by Bayer and Hill's, the AVMA had the city's Museum of Science to itself. Attendees could witness the drama of life played out on the African Serengeti on the five-story-high theater screen, watch the laser show, or see the live animal demonstration.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy headlined the AVMA Political Action Committee luncheon. "Never has the need for veterinary medicine been greater," said the senator, noting how exotic diseases that threaten human health are now only a plane ride away.

New this year was the Early Bird CE. These sessions were offered for three days starting at 7 a.m. and covered topics including pain management and the latest developments in orthopedics. Response was telling because the sessions sold out prior to convention. "There's a possibility the [AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee] will look to expand these next year," said David Little, AVMA continuing education and sponsorship coordinator.

Veterinary economics and practice success remain a focus of the AVMA. The National Commission on Veterinary Economic Issues hosted the latest in a series of national forums intended to help veterinarians improve their bottom line while satisfying society's demands. And in a lecture sponsored by Pfizer Animal Health, David A. Shore, PhD, of Harvard University talked about the principles of branding—creating product identification and consumer loyalty—that veterinarians can use to make their practices successful.

Boston will be difficult to top, but the AVMA is up to the challenge. Next year, the annual convention will be in Nashville, Tenn., July 13-17 at the Opryland Hotel. See y'all then!