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AVMA Convention attendees keep up-to-date with CE and friends
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Veterinarians, veterinary students, veterinary technicians, and veterinary staff looking to bone up on how to treat backyard chickens or honeybees, improve workplace morale and team building, or stay up-to-date on the latest changes in telemedicine or drug compounding found relevant continuing education and much more during AVMA Convention 2017, held July 21-25 in Indianapolis.

Convention 2017 photos
Attendees at the AVMA Convention 2017 Veterinary Technician Appreciation Event enjoy petting dog sharks at the Indianapolis Zoo Oceans Building (above). Wet labs (top right) remain a popular continuing education option at the convention, while a virtual reality station (bottom right) is a hit in the exhibit hall. (Photos by Matt Alexandre Photography)

The event attracted more than 7,300 attendees, including at least 3,600 veterinarians, nearly 400 veterinary students, and 470 or so veterinary technicians and veterinary technology students. It featured 800 CE sessions from leading industry experts, a wide variety of hands-on laboratories, and 300-plus exhibitors showcasing their products and services, allowing attendees to stay ahead of the curve on the latest veterinary trends and advancements.

Interactive learning

The Association's Convention Education Program Committee continued to expand continuing education options for attendees. For the first time, the convention featured poster presentations in the exhibit hall on a variety of topics by practitioners and veterinary students. These were well-received, especially during times the authors were present so attendees could interact and ask more detailed questions, said Dr. Christine O'Rourke, chair of the program committee. Also, back by popular demand, the Meet the Experts roundtable was expanded, with over 40 experts present.

Paul Sereno, PhD
Renowned paleontologist Paul Sereno, PhD, a National Geographic explorer, talks in his keynote presentation about how human culture began in earnest when people began to live in large groups and domesticate animals. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

"The session was very well-attended and received excellent feedback from attendees," Dr. O'Rourke said. "As one attendee commented: 'How often do you get to sit down at a table and chat with Dr. Marty Becker?'"

Dr. O'Rourke continued, "As veterinarians take on ever-expanding roles in animal health, the AVMA Convention aims to keep pace through the CE offered. This was evidenced by a sold-out honeybee health field workshop. CEPC also planned continuing education sessions to pull together topics pertinent to all practitioners but especially relevant to the surrounding region. This year, that included a CE track addressing urban farming."

If bones could talk

The convention also had renowned paleontologist Paul Sereno, PhD, a National Geographic explorer and professor at the University of Chicago, give a keynote presentation that explored how the history of the animal world relates to modern veterinary medicine.

Dr. Sereno talked about how human culture began in earnest when people began to live in large groups and domesticate animals. As a result, crowd diseases and zoonotic diseases developed. Most crowd diseases have an Old World origin dating to Neolithic times, Dr. Sereno said. Examples he gave were influenza, measles, mumps, and smallpox, which probably or possibly reached humans from domestic animals; hepatitis B, from apes; and plague and typhus, from rodents. Four of these diseases are of unknown origin.

Disease agents have mutated and evolved like everything else that is living, he said. Researchers looking at the graves of people who died in the 1300s found that the plague variant seen today, which is making a comeback in some places such as the Southwest, is not the same as the variant that caused bubonic plague—better known as the Black Death—which wiped out a large portion of the humans in Europe during the 14th century. And that variant was likely not the same as the one that may have contributed to the downfall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century.

"It's revolutionizing what we're learning about the plague, about leishmaniasis, which is shared with our companion animals, about tuberculosis," Dr. Sereno said. "It's revolutionizing the evolutionary history for one health."

Coming up next year

AVMA Convention 2018 will take place July 13-17 in Denver.

Michael Wilson, director of the AVMA Convention and Meeting Planning Division, joined the AVMA staff right before the 2017 convention. He felt the convention was successful and that Indianapolis represented itself well as a host city.

"With over 7,300 attendees, our numbers were down from what we projected. However, I feel that the overall consensus from Board members, exhibitors, and attendees was very positive and (that they were) pleasantly surprised as to what the city has to offer," Wilson said.

"I am looking forward to 2018 and hoping to bring more creativity into the event. There will be a big push to increase the attendance numbers, using the excitement of being in Denver. We also want to drive attendance by focusing on offerings that will appeal to millennials."

Dr. O'Rourke said the program committee plans to continue the Meet the Experts roundtable as well expand the poster sessions and give attendees additional opportunities to interact with poster authors. The program committee also is looking at ways to allow attendees to learn through a greater variety of methods, including expanded workshop opportunities and additional hands-on laboratories.

Popular CE sessions during AVMA Convention 2017

  • "Medical Cannabinoids: Prayer or Prophecy"

Honeybee Health and Husbandry Sessions:

  • "Beekeeping Basics"
  • "Bee Hive Inspection"
  • "Honeybee Health and Diseases"
  • "VFDs and Prescriptions for Honeybees: Putting It All Together"

Orthopedic and Soft Tissue Surgery Sessions

  • "Management of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Insufficiency in Dogs
  • "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus: The Clock is Ticking"
  • "A Comprehensive Review of the Orthopedic Examination"
  • "Pelvic Fractures: Conservative and Surgical Management Options"
  • "Canine Hip Dysplasia: Diagnosis and Treatment Options"

Read more about the convention happenings in the four editions of the AVMA Convention 2017 Daily News, and view a video showing convention highlights.