Nashville convention delivers a grand time
When one thinks of scientific conventions, one does not think about lush gardens and bountiful waterfalls, but this was the backdrop for the 139th AVMA Annual Convention, held July 13-17.
The elegant Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, housedunder a 15-story glass ceiling, sported nine acres of gardens, waterfalls, terraced guest rooms and suites, and an indoor river complete with fish and passenger boats.
"The facilities were outstanding because they were all under one roof," said Dr. Dennis McCurnin, chair of the Convention Management and Program Committee. "People could stay at Opryland and be right there at the convention center."
Amidst the splendid decor, the convention offered first-class educational sessions, hands-on training, social events, and a grand old time for all. A total of 493 speakers shared their knowledge with attendees of the 2002 Educational Program sessions. Individuals could choose from more than 950 presentations, which offered a total of 801 hours of continuing education, an increase from 764 in 2001.
The wet labs continued to be a big hit, with five selling out prior to convention. "We had a record number of wet labs this year, 17 for veterinarians and seven for veterinary technicians," said Michael Roop, director of the Convention and Meeting Planning Division. "People registered early and they sold out quickly." Topics included dentistry, video otoscopy, canine lameness and rehabilitation, critical care procedures, acupuncture, and cytology.
Because the Early Bird CE sessions proved so popular last year, the AVMA increased their number to nine sessions, spanning topics from orthopedic surgery to investment opportunities. Several of these also sold out. "I believe the Early Bird CE sessions were one of the highlights of the 2002 Convention," Roop said.
The educational programs were a huge success. "The highlight of the meeting for me was the number of thank-yous that I received from people saying how outstanding a program it was—many, many more than I have had in the past," Dr. McCurnin said.
For many convention goers, education didn't stop with the last session of the day. Dr. Kate Baldwin, a first-time AVMA convention attendee and small animal veterinarian at Mayfair Animal Clinic in Chicago, said that one of the convention's highlights was having the opportunity to talk shop with her former classmates. "We talked about the different types of procedures we were doing, and also about the different ways we had of doing the same thing," she said."It showed me different perspectives, and it gave me more options to consider trying in different cases."
This year's registrants included 3,789 veterinarians; 421 veterinary technicians; 274 veterinary students; 54 veterinary technician students; 103 nonveterinarian office managers and staff; 1,544 spouses, guests, and children age 18 and over; and 880 children under 18. Veterinarian attendance set an all-time record—more than 300 higher than last year.
A total of 47 companies sponsored convention services, attractions, and activities. In the exhibit hall, 1,260 exhibitors staffed 282 booths accounting for 371 spaces. Two dozen new products made their first appearance in this year's exhibit hall, which also sported a double-decker booth, the first ever for an AVMA convention. Hill's Pet Nutrition Inc. sponsored the booth and provided short, case-based medical education on a variety of topics on the upper deck.
Also making a debut appearance at the 2002 convention was the AVMA News Network. This half-hour television program aired Saturday through Wednesday and featured interviews, convention highlights, and stories about veterinary medicine. Each show was continuously broadcast throughout the day on a channel that was accessible in the hotel rooms at the Gaylord Opryland Resort, on six TVs located throughout the convention center, and in the buses shuttling people between the convention center and other convention hotels. "The in-room TV coverage was no doubt a highlight of this year's program," Roop said.
At the General Session, football legend Terry Bradshaw delivered an animated and humorous talk including stories about his NFL career and experience raising farm animals (see page 627). He emphasized the importance of family, friends, and keeping your priorities straight. Country music legend Charley Pride provided the entertainment for AVMA Family Night, delivering a heartfelt performance at the Grand Ole Opry (see page 623). Bayer Animal Health Corp. and Hills Pet Nutrition Inc. co-sponsored both the General Session and Family Night.
The convention received praise from most attendees. In an issue of Brakke Consulting's Animal Health News and Notes, Ron Brakke stated that several of the Brakke staff had attended a "most successful" AVMA meeting and congratulated the Association on a "great" meeting.
"I cannot say enough about the work that the Convention Management and Program Committee and AVMA's professional convention staff did to make Nashville a successful AVMA convention," said Dr. Bruce Little, AVMA executive vice president. "Collectively, we have a world-class convention team that works hard and has the vision to make the AVMA convention a world-class event."
The convention's success poses only one problem: measuring up next year. "We are going to try to repeat the success and build on that for Denver next year," Dr. McCurnin said.