WVC conference concludes with eye on expansion

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More than 14,000 veterinary professionals gathered March 5-9 in Las Vegas for the 89th annual meeting of the Western Veterinary Conference, held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

The WVC’s flagship event offered participants the opportunity to earn up to 57 continuing education hours in topic areas including small animal, equine, food animal, and avian and exotic animal medicine as well as courses specific to veterinary technicians and practice management.

Conference highlights included the announcement of plans to expand the Oquendo Center veterinary training and education facility to more than double its current size by 2019; the general session speaker, National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore; more than 500 exhibitors showcasing the latest innovations in the veterinary industry; and over 1,000 hours of CE.

Partners for Healthy Pets conducted a four-hour symposium as part of the Practice Operations CE track. The case-based course focused on practical strategies to attract and retain clients. It also walked participants through many of the tools and resources offered by PHP.

The WVC honored 38 award recipients. The Dr. W. Bruce Wren Food Animal Incentive Award, which takes its name from the longtime WVC food animal program manager and industry leader, was awarded to five postgraduate students for demonstrating leadership in this practice area. They are Drs. Kathryn Anderson, Mississippi State University; Sydney Crosby, University of Georgia; Addie Felten, Tufts University Ambulatory Service; Jenna Funk, Iowa State University; and Lacy Robinson, Kansas State University.

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Another 32 students were recognized for their school involvement and overall leadership potential with the Dr. Jack Walther Leadership Award. A Special Service Recognition Award was given to veterinary technician Linda Markland for her service to the WVC.

In addition to those 38 award recipients, six educators were voted by WVC participants as 2017 Continuing Educators of the Year for their innovative methodologies that enhance animal health within their specialty. They are Dr. Douglas Mader, avian and exotics; Dr. Anne Wooldridge, equine; Dr. Robert Sager, food animal; Dr. Karen Felsted, practice management; Dr. Etienne Cote, small animal; and Heather Prendergast, veterinary technology.

Dr. W. Mark Hilton of West Lafayette, Indiana, assumed the WVC presidency for 2017. Dr. Hilton is a technical consultant for Elanco Animal Health’s beef team and a clinical professor emeritus of beef production medicine at Purdue University, where he received his DVM degree in 1983.

Dr. Hilton is a professor who is passionate about mentoring veterinary students to help them succeed. “I could not be more thrilled to be president of the WVC in this exciting time of growth and expansion. With a focus on people, vision, and mentorship, I look forward to leading WVC into its 90th year,” Dr. Hilton said.

Newly elected WVC board members are Dr. Theresa W. Fossum, Glendale, Arizona; Dr. Morgan McArthur, New Berlin, Wisconsin; and Heather Prendergast, Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Dr. Fossum is vice president for research and strategic initiatives and a professor of veterinary surgery at Midwestern University in Glendale, Arizona. She has authored or co-authored more than a hundred manuscripts in refereed journals and is the author of “Small Animal Surgery,” now in its fourth edition.

Dr. McArthur is a professional speaker and former world champion of public speaking with Toastmaster’s International. He works part time for the University of Wisconsin Extension program.

Prendergast is a registered veterinary technician with more than 25 years of experience in small animal practice. She is an instructor and serves on several advisory committees, including the National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America’s National Credentialing Task Force. Prendergast is currently editor-in-chief of the NAVTA journal.

“The annual conference is a culmination of the expertise and efforts of the WVC board, committees, and staff who work tirelessly year-round to produce our flagship event,” said WVC CEO David Little. “The variety and depth of the 2017 program was appreciated by over 6,000 veterinarians, more than 1,400 veterinary technicians, and 360 practice managers.”