2007 NAVC Conference Offers More Bang for the Buck
2007 Board of Directors
GAINESVILLE, FL — From exhibitors to veterinarians and technicians, participants in the 2007 NAVC Conference, held January 13-17 in Orlando, spoke glowingly about the customer service and innovative programming they have come to expect from one of the largest and most comprehensive veterinary conferences in the world.
"I've been to many, many conference exhibitions all over the country and I tell people, this one is by far the best," said Jeff Heister of Kong Veterinary Products. He commented on the friendliness of the Gaylord Palms resort staff and others who assisted with setting up booths in the exhibit hall.
Even the Target dog -- the white bull terrier with two red circles around his left eye, otherwise known as the bulls-eye dog -- posed for photos while maracas in his likeness were hits with young and old alike.
"This year's conference continued our tradition of excellence and on behalf of the board of directors, I can honestly say it was one of the best we've ever had," said Dr. Phillipe Moreau of France, the NAVC Conference's first president from a country other than the United States. "And on top of it, the weather was great all week: a great sign of the bright future for all veterinarians around the world who attended the NAVC Conference."
Almost 15,000 people attended NAVC this year, including 5,742 veterinarians, 1,723 technicians, 726 practice managers, 675 students, 2,611 family members and guests, 3,204 exhibitors, 128 non-DVM registrants and 152 members of the press and media.
"We were pleased by the high numbers," said NAVC's Executive Director Dr. Colin Burrows, BVetMed., PhD, MRCVS, DipACVIM. "Despite our size, we take pride in the lengths we go to in order to meet our registrants' needs and keep their experience both manageable and enjoyable."
Peg Firth, a veterinarian from Normal, IL, who was attending the NAVC Conference for the third time, called the conference "a great boost."
"It lets you know you're doing things right and opens your eyes to new things," she said after sitting in on a sports medicine presentation. "In a world where not many people give you a pat on the back, the NAVC Conference gives you that feel-good energy."
A total of 1,178 international registrants came from as far away as the Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Japan, Finland, Australia, the Slovak Republic, Peru and Bosnia, Burrows said.
"The entire world is here," said Dr. Leonardo Sepiurka, DVM, a small animal practitioner and professor at the University of Tandil in Argentina. Sepiurka attended the NAVC Conference for the first time this year as a scholarship recipient. "There are people from 75 or 80 countries. I was just talking with old friends from different parts of the world again. This is a place where you can meet old friends and makes knew ones as well." Hill's – Canada and Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. hosted an international delegates reception to unite and welcome foreign attendees.
This year's programs featured more than 400 speakers and instructors, who presented more than 1,400 hours of continuing education, including timely talks on emerging pathogens such as canine influenza virus and topics such as vaccinology and feline lower urinary tract disease.
"Animal CSI" was popular this year in both the lecture and the laboratory formats.
"I've always enjoyed the CSI shows on television, and that piqued my interest," confessed Dr. Janet Winter, DVM, of Nebraska. "There are cases (of suspected animal cruelty) that come up, and Dr. Melinda Merck's lecture trained me to look for potential red-flags and warning signs."
Merck's presentation provided useful information about animal abuse and the proper procedural protocols to follow in order to pursue prosecution when appropriate.
"If you don't do things right, the authorities can't do anything about those situations," Winter said.
The CSI for technicians laboratory gave participants a better understanding of the tools used in forensic medicine while a first-ever laboratory on avian behavior sold out months in advance. A chelonian techniques laboratory was new this year and offered hands-on work with turtles. Another unique first-ever web lab sponsored by Biovision and Karl Storz showcased the laparoscopic spay technique in dogs. Participants were able to see and practice the technique that is extremely popular in Europe but still not common in the U.S. All canine patients recovered completely and will be placed for adoption.
A four-day, two-track practice management core sponsored by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. was available this year, along with a "Practice Superstars" component featuring well-known speakers sharing their view and professional management tips. Topics ranged from dealing with difficult clients to procrastination and resistance to change in the workplace.
The AAHA management track for practice managers featured presentations on managing inventory investments and much more. In addition to the trademark scientific program and wet labs, Masterclasses and Meet-the-Professor luncheons rounded out the offerings.
Dr. Kathy Metzger-Smith, DVM, of Apopka, FL, took a Masterclass with Jacquie Rand, BVSc, on the topic of feline diabetes.
"This was the third Masterclass I've done at NAVC," said Metzger-Smith. "The lunches are good, you sit down and get a break and you do learn a lot." She enjoyed the opportunity to interact with colleagues and network over lunch before the presentation began.
Many attendees and their guests enjoyed the Hill's and Morris Animal Foundation's Keynote Luncheon with Dr. Mike Cranfield, Executive Director of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. The MGVP provides much needed health care to the highly endangered mountain gorillas of Rwanda, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
"I've watched the NAVC Conference grow over the years, and everything is fabulous and even more dramatic," said Prudence Walker, DVM, of Knoxville, TN. "It's just such a well-oiled machine. People are pleasant and happy and even though there are thousands of people here, I didn't stand in any lines."
She added that the "fun" element of the NAVC Conference was just as important to her as the scientific aspects.
"I went down to Bayer Central Park and there were all of these older women veterinarians getting chair massages and relaxing during their lunch. People were playing golf games and bowling nurturing the child within. It's the first time I've seen this happen at a professional meeting. I have not thought about home and I haven't called my clinic once."
The fun continued into the night as attendees and their guest had plenty of opportunities to party after spending their days in class. Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. kicked off the celebrating with the Opening Ceremonies featuring SINBAD the actor and comedian. The legendary rock band Styx, sponsored by Bayer performed their crowd favorite hits including; "Lady," "Come Sail Away," "Babe," and "Mr. Roboto." Merial treated attendees to the R&B, soul and jazz music of The Neville Brothers and Novartis' pirate themed Finale Party had everyone dancing until the end.
Speakers of the year for the 2006 NAVC Conference were named during Opening Ceremonies. They included Dr. Alice Wolf, DVM, small animal; Dr. Joe Bertone, DVM, equine; Dr. Christopher Sebra, DVM, food animal, Dr. Brian Speer, DVM, exotics and Julie Shaw, RVT, for the technician program. Shaw was also honored by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc. at the Opening Ceremonies as the Jack L. Mara Memorial Lecturer.
Newly elected officers for 2007-08 include Dr. Jorge Guerrero, DVM, as president, Dr. Don Harris, DVM, president-elect; Dr. Philippe Moreau, DVM, immediate past president and Dr. Earl Gaughan, DVM, as vice president. Dr. Earl Rippie, DVM was re-elected as secretary-treasurer.
Next year's NAVC Conference will be held January 19-23, 2008 in Orlando. For additional information please contact the NAVC at (352) 375-5672 or visit www.tnavc.org.
Meghan R. Costigan
(352) 375-5672 ext. 731