I love vet congresses and see them always remaining an important part of our professional lives, not only in terms of CPD, which I actually think is probably delivered more effectively now through other mediums, especially online methods, but more in terms of the fact that they provide the single best way of bringing vets, and those involved in delivering veterinary services, together under one roof. The advantages of this were evident during the two days of the London Vet Show, held at London Olympia in Kensington, at which I had the pleasure of meeting up with loads of friends, from both former and current jobs, vet school and industry contacts. There is no other way that you would expect to just be able to bump into someone whom you might not have seen for five years and for it to feel as though you were still at vet school. I think most vets would agree that the best bit about congresses such as LVS is the social aspect.
It wasn’t all hanging out with friends and flexing my social muscles though, with lots to achieve during the two days, including gathering research and images for an article I have been working on for the veterinary press, discuss careers issues with members of the veterinary profession, and expanding my veterinary knowledge by attending lectures. Perhaps it would be easier to give you an insight into a vet congress by guiding you through my two days…
Day 1: Hypercalcaemia & Competition Marathon
- An early start for an early train for an early arrival in London. Clutching my pass I entered the impressive, expansive, timeless space of Olympia in London and en-route to my first lecture of the day was immediately distracted by an exciting new piece of technology: a simple to use ECG (VetCor) that reads out on an iPhone or iPod Touch and was as simple to use as can be. Definitely one for the blog! Getting through the exhibition hall, which is huge and packed full of various stands ranging from the big pet food and drug companies, to small independent suppliers of a range of services and products, to veterinary groups and specialists, is difficult without being drawn into perusing the stands or stopping to talk to those you know. I definitely needed to keep focused on my aim of getting into my first lecture of the day, on calcium disorders in animals, and made it into the huge lecture area to take up a seat, funnily enough, next to an old friend from Bristol Vet School.
- An excellent lecture during which I learn’t a good couple of nuggets of clinically relevant information which I can take back to my day to day work as a vet. Right, time for a coffee with another vet school friend.
- Another lecture to attend, although I quickly realise that it is not the one I thought it was going to be and turns out not to be too interesting. Still, it is a good opportunity to fill out all of the various competition slips in the congress handbook in preparation to hand them in at the various company stands and hopefully win some cool prizes, with the chances of securing an iPad appearing pretty good on account of virtually every stand offering one as a prize! The London Vet Show does offer delegates some pretty amazing chances to win great prizes, with the main prize for collecting a variety of stamps from across a range of exhibiting companies being a safari in Africa, organised by the awesome team at The Worldwide Veterinary Service, WVS.
- The next few hours are a blur of competition entering, discussing new developments in veterinary and the various products and services on offer, including some very interesting new tech, and just hanging out with friends over lunch. Tickets to the London Vet Show include a bag containing an official show guide, including synopses of the lectures, and important show information, the aforementioned competition slips and lunch is included as well, which we collected from the centre of the beautiful main Olympia hall, where the exhibition was taking place.
- If I had been more organised and booked in advance then I would have spent the afternoon attending one of the practical sessions delivered by veterinary specialists Dick White Referrals. As it turned out, these sessions proved to be very popular and so were booked up early. As useful as lectures can be, I definitely feel that practical CPD is the most useful as a lot of what we do in our jobs as vets is very practical in nature and I am sure you can all appreciate how much more effective it is to learn to do something by, well, actually doing it. Still, maybe next year.
- An afternoon lecture on feline triaditis, which I found myself watching from a very comfortable reclined position on the floor, due to the fact that the big lecture room was packed. I must admit that it was very tempting to catch a few Z’s during the lecture – not a comment on the interest level but more a reflection of the fact that I had just had lunch and found myself in a very comfortable position laying on the floor watching the lecture on one of the many video screens around the room.
- Another round of exhibition touring before attending a small Cuban cocktail party being hosted by a referral centre and yet more catching up with former lecturers and friends. A decent warm up to another drinks reception at the nearby Hilton, hosted by webinar provider, The Webinar Vet, complete with pizza, meaning that dinner was sorted 🙂
- Quick drop off of bags at my (over-priced, yet conveniently located) hotel and it was off out into Kensington to find a pub for a few drinks and a good evening of chatting with a good friend. Lots of delegates were at the Vets Now party, which was the official party of the show, and saw the guests entertained in dazzling fashion by, amongst other treats, a fire-eating display. We vets sure do know how to party!
- Not enough sleep before getting to do it all over again….
Day 2: Tech & Vet Education
- Its always a good idea to fuel up well at breakfast when attending any vet shows, as there is a lot of walking around to do and you sure do need the energy. All fuelled up, it was straight back into research for the article and meetings with vets involved in the new book I am working on.
- The first talk of the day for me was a small group session with Noel Fitzpatrick, of Fitzpatrick Referrals, during which we spent a good hour learning about elbow dysplasia and the exciting new developments in veterinary orthopaedics. I am always amazed at what is now possible, and pioneering vets like Noel continue to push the boundaries.
- The next lecture was unfortunately so popular that I was not able to even get into the hall and so it was back to the exhibition for some more perusing and research.
- Lunch with a friend and a really good discussion about veterinary education and the future of the profession. We both agreed that the next ten years are going to be very interesting in terms of the anticipated changes in the veterinary labour market.
- As much as my mind was willing and I had every intention of attending another lecture, the fact is I still had so much to do in the main exhibition, with the rest of the afternoon involving tying off loose ends and bringing the two days to a close.
- A cheeky curry and a few pints with some vet school friends before getting the wrong train home and a later than expected return!
As you can see, veterinary congresses are a really great way to pack in a range of CPD opportunities, including some practicals, whilst also offering one of the best ways to catch up with all those friends from vet school and the wider profession who you may not have seen since the previous year. Yet another good year and looking forward to the next one.