Conference attendees do good while earning credits

Published on March 18, 2010
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The North American Veterinary Conference offered something more than continuing education this year—humanitarian aid.

A magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated Haiti on Jan. 12, just four days before the conference began. The tragedy, which is estimated to have claimed at nearly 230,000 lives, according to United Nations officials, was on the minds of many attendees.

In response, NAVC organizers decided to donate all attendees' prepaid, leftover lunch money—more than $15,000—to the International Fund for Animal Welfare to assist the relief efforts, including those of the canine search teams.

2010 NAVC board of directors
Members of the 2010 NAVC board of directors: Front row—Drs. David F. Senior, conference coordinator; Colin F. Burrows, executive director; Charlotte A. Lacroix, director; Earl H. Rippie, secretary-treasurer; Earl M. Gaughan, immediate past president; Melinda D. Merck, director; and Laurel A. Kaddatz, president-elect. Back row—Dr. Richard A. LeCouteur, director; Dr. Douglas R. Mader, president; Lynne M. Johnson, director; Dr. Mark M. Smith, director; Dr. Christine B. Navarre, director; Dr. Mark R. Crootof, director; and Dr. M. Gatz Riddell, vice president.

The five-day conference, which took place Jan. 16-20, in Orlando, Fla., drew 14,251 registrants from more than 70 countries, including 5,478 veterinarians, 1,325 technicians, 592 practice managers and receptionists, and 675 veterinary and veterinary technician students.

The "Thriving in Turbulent Economic Times" program—formerly known as the "Elephant in the Room" forum—looked at the rise in veterinary student debt with participation from the Veterinary Business Management Association. Panel members presented training systems, business models, mentoring programs, motivational compensation systems, internships, ownership buy-ins, and hiring practices that resulted in success.

The Morris Animal Foundation keynote luncheon featured Dr. Stephen J. O'Brien, chief of the Laboratory of Genomic Diversity at the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes for Health. Dr. O'Brien discussed his book, "Tears of the Cheetah and Other Tales from the Genetic Frontier."

Other conference highlights included the AVMA PLIT symposium, which touched on insurance, estate, and financial planning, as well as three two-day programs on shelter medicine, hospital design, and canine sports medicine.

Dr. John W. Harvey, professor and executive associate dean at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, received the Hill's Pet Nutrition Mark L. Morris Sr. Lifetime Achievement Award. He was honored for his work in clinical pathology and physiology, particularly his expertise in hematology.

The second Neill P. Overman Award was presented, to Lesa Boileau. She is Merial's senior conference manager. Boileau was nominated by fellow exhibitors for her fairness, ethical behavior, salesmanship, knowledge of the veterinary profession, and continued efforts to educate all members of the veterinary health care team.

Former Saturday Night Live comedian Martin Short took the stage on the conference's opening night and rock group Foreigner had the crowd dancing two nights later.