AVMA Answers

Published on March 15, 2005
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Q:  How will holding the World Veterinary Congress in conjunction with the AVMA Annual Convention in Minneapolis, July 16-20, change the character of the AVMA meeting?

Dr. Dennis McCurnin, chair of the AVMA, Convention Management and Program Committee, responds:  

A:   The World Veterinary Congress was started in 1863, but it has been held on U.S. soil only once before—in New York City in 1934, so this is only the second time the congress is being held in conjunction with the AVMA convention. It's going to be an exciting meeting because the congress will add an international dimension that many U.S. veterinarians haven't yet experienced. They will connect with veterinarians and information from all parts of the world, who will come together to meet the theme we're trying to achieve in veterinary medicine today, the theme of the 142nd AVMA Annual Convention/28th World Veterinary Congress—"One Profession, One Vision." Our goal was to fold the international flavor into a seamless meeting. We did not want to have any boundaries, but one profession at one meeting.  

Q:  Can registrants of the AVMA convention attend WVC sessions, and vice versa?
A:   Oh, yes. One registration fee gets everyone into everything. For the course of this meeting, every AVMA convention registrant is going to be a member of the World Veterinary Association. This will probably be the most-attended World Veterinary Congress, because it is associated with the AVMA, and we anticipate this to be our largest AVMA convention as well. The joint meeting will feature approximately 1,000 hours of continuing education programming, close to 30 wet labs, and a complement of sponsored symposia.

Q:  Will AVMA conventioneers find the WVC International Pavilion sessions of value?
A:   The International Pavilion was aimed at giving our international speakers a forum where they could make presentations of international interest to the profession. Pavilion sessions go on from July 16-19. Four rooms are reserved for these presentations. The sessions are not lengthy, maybe 20 or 30 minutes each, so that a person can pick out a subject or two that they have interest in and find out about it from an international perspective. It will give veterinarians a different perspective about the world of veterinary medicine, and the world of the world, too.

Q:  Will language translation be available for CE sessions and various events?
A:   Translation is expensive and requires special room set-ups, so we arranged the International Pavilion to minimize the need for translation. A French speaker might be scheduled for one hour, a German speaker for another. People who speak those languages can come in and listen to those presentations.

On the basis of preregistration numbers from various countries, translation via an FM radio system may be available in French, Spanish, German, and/or Japanese for selected sessions. Translation will be provided for the opening and closing sessions.

One of the things we'll notice is that most foreign veterinary attendees speak English and will be attending our English sessions. Many Europeans speak two, three, four languages. This is pretty interesting if you look at the small number of veterinarians in this country who speak a foreign language. A lot of good science and many valuable studies are being evaluated and released from countries that do not speak English. One of the reasons for having an international meeting is to remind people that English-speaking countries do not have a corner on science. A lot of other countries do great things, too.

Registrants' name badges will reflect their native tongue, so that when an attendee needs to talk with someone, they know which language to communicate in, even in the exhibit hall.

I think we'll have more international exhibitors. Each foreign company will determine whether they should make bilingual representatives available.

Q:  What else does the conjoint meeting have in store?
A:   Our foreign visitors will find our interactive laboratories an unusual opportunity. Generally, foreign meetings do not offer many laboratories, and when they do, they tend not to be interactive laboratories with animals. On the other hand, the type of opening and closing ceremonies planned this year will be completely new for the AVMA convention. International meetings usually have gala opening and closing ceremonies, whereas we tend to have only an opening session. The keynote speaker at the opening session, co-sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition, will be former First Lady Barbara Bush.

Minneapolis will be a wonderful venue. The weather should be cooperative, and Minneapolis is a clean, well-laid-out city with excellent, conveniently located hotel and convention facilities. The convention center has been expanded since the AVMA met there in 1993. Minneapolis is usually not a destination point for international guests, so they're going to see an American city in the heartland, which will be something new and interesting to most of them.

For Family Night, co-sponsored by Bayer Animal Health, Harriet Island will be pretty fantastic. Attendees will be free to come and go virtually as they please, in a relaxed, North woods atmosphere. They'll be able to eat, relax, talk, and be entertained, all at the same time. Some activities unique to Minneapolis have been arranged so that attendees can experience the true local flavor.