A Mile High success

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With more than 9,314 attendees, the AVMA's Annual Convention in Denver, July 19-23, broke previous attendance records. The venue, the Mile High City; Rudy Giuliani's speech at the General Session; and a performance by country crooner Phil Vassar were just of few of the highlights.

The attendance totals are 4,360 veterinarians, 382 veterinary students, 671 veterinary technicians and technician students, 92 practice staff members, 1,242 exhibitors, and 2,405 spouses, children, and guests. Among the 4,360 veterinarians were 313 foreign veterinarians.

Convention-goers were able to choose from 850 hours of continuing education, including sessions on vaccination, dog bite prevention, West Nile virus, antimicrobial resistance, and food safety. Twenty-two interactive labs offered veterinarians and technicians a chance to try out their skills in such varied areas as marine mammal medicine, acupuncture, and laser surgery.

Additionally, a 300-exhibit trade show gave attendees an opportunity to get up to date on the latest new products and touch base with the AVMA and other veterinary groups and agencies. Josh, the Golden Retriever mascot of the Josh Project, was on hand in the Exhibit Hall. Josh's owner, Dr. Randall Lange, a Knoxville-based veterinarian, wrote a children's book, "I'll be OK," featuring Josh that aims to help children overcome their fears of being in the hospital. Now, Josh tours hospitals, bringing smiles to ill children. Another big draw in the Exhibit Hall was the AAHA 23-foot mobile veterinary hospital. The traveling exhibit showcases the latest advances in veterinary science, and the newest technology.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani headlined the General Session with his speech "Leadership in Troubled Times" (see page 584). And inspirational speaker Dr. Morgan McArthur followed with his upbeat message.

Country music sensation Phil Vassar wowed convention attendees with his performance at the historic Red Rocks amphitheater (see page 590). Vassar, whose hits "American Child" and "Six Pack Summer" have topped the charts, was the featured act at Family Night.

The AVMA News Network returned for the second consecutive year, giving conventioneers the opportunity to preview many of the week's educational and social activities from the comfort of their hotel rooms or on monitors throughout the convention center. A new 30-minute television show aired daily, Saturday through Tuesday, covering stories, interviews with speakers, reviews of upcoming presentations, and special events.

This year's convention was a first for two members of the AVMA convention staff. David Little became director of the Convention and Meeting Planning Division last September following the sudden death of Michael R. Roop. Little worked with Roop for a year and a half as continuing education and sponsorship coordinator, gaining experience in many facets of AVMA convention planning.

Under Roop's direction, CE hours doubled from less than 400 in 1997 to 800 in 2002 and the wet labs were created and grew to 17 by last year. In less than a year as director, Little has advanced those efforts, overseeing growth of the CE hours to over 850 and the number of interactive (wet) labs to 22.

"We are extremely pleased with the turnout this year in Denver,"

Little said. "The AVMA Convention Management and Program Committee has put together an excellent educational program, which has driven our attendance to record numbers. I think it is also a great testament to the work that my predecessor, Michael Roop, accomplished over the course of his years with the Association.

"We couldn't be happier with the 2003 AVMA Annual Convention and look forward to continuing our success next year in Philadelphia."

Whether or not you were able to join the AVMA in Denver for the 140th Annual Convention, you will enjoy the recap that continues on page 584. The two-day House of Delegates session—the Association's official business meeting—begins the day before the convention; HOD news coverage starts on page 570.

While the HOD and convention were unfolding in Denver, other developments affecting the profession continued; see the Take Notice section on page 570 and other news beginning on page 593.