Soaking Up Knowledge and Having Fun at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas
By Rachele Baker, DVM – I just got back from attending the Western Veterinary Conference held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, February 15-19, 2015. It was fantastic. I learned a lot, had some fun, and came away feeling energized and excited about all of the things that I learned.
Veterinarians in the state of California are required to attend 36 hours of Continuing Education every two years in order to maintain their veterinary licensure. There are many Continuing Education opportunities in California and throughout the United States each year. I frequently attend my local veterinary medical association monthly dinner meeting during which a lecture is presented and one hour of Continuing Education is provided. But my favorite way to fulfill my Continuing Education requirement is to attend a large convention such as the Western Veterinary Conference. In 2014, there were over 6,100 veterinarians and over 2,100 veterinary technicians that attended the Western Veterinary Conference.
Large veterinary conventions typically offer four to five days of lectures on medicine and surgery. The large conventions also offer hands-on laboratories for developing skills in such things as ultrasonography, endoscopy, and more. Another great feature of the large veterinary conventions is the Exhibit Hall where hundreds of exhibitors offer surgical instruments and monitoring devices, medications and supplements, reference books, and everything imaginable related to veterinary medicine and surgery. This year there were more than 500 exhibitors demonstrating their latest products. This is a great way to find out about new products that have just recently become available.
I attended 31 hours of lectures from Sunday through Wednesday. The lectures that I thought were exceptional were “Feline Idiopathic Cystitis,” “Preventing Dental Pain: A Multimodal Approach,” “Dental Extractions Made Easier,” “Epidermal Barrier Restoration: Clinical Impact,” “Successful Canine Heart Failure Management: It Starts At Home,” and “Canine Separation Anxiety Disorder.”
In spite of an intense Continuing Education schedule, I also managed to have some fun on my trip. On Sunday night, conference attendees were invited to a show by comedian Rocky LaPorte (who was a finalist on the television show Last Comic Standing). It was quite enjoyable.
On Monday, I spent my lunch break racing around the Exhibit Hall participating in the Vet Detective Experience. Conference attendees were provided with a booklet that contained 20 clues related to 20 different exhibit booths in the Exhibit Hall and could participate in the game if they wanted to. The game involved a visit to each participating exhibitor to locate a sign with a clue on it. The signs had word games, puzzles, and mazes which had to be solved. Once all 20 clues were solved, then one or more letters from the answer to each clue had to be used to complete a sentence at the end of the Vet Detective booklet. If we got the sentence right, then we were entered into the prize drawing. First prize was $5,000.00 cash! I was able to think of a lot of things that I could use $5,000.00 for, so I figured it was worth the time to participate. It was a lot of fun and I ended up visiting some great exhibit booths that I probably would not have visited otherwise simply due to lack of time. Unfortunately, I did not win the $5,000.00 first prize or even a consolation prize. Oh well, I had fun anyway.
On Monday night, Merial invited some conference attendees to an evening of dinner, drinks, and a live band at The House of Blues in the Mandalay Bay Casino. I met two very nice women while waiting in line. One was a veterinarian from the Boston area and one was a veterinarian from the San Diego area. We got a table together in The House of Blues, had some amazing appetizers and good food, listened to the band, and had a great time.
On my last night in Las Vegas, I took myself out to dinner at the Rí Rá Irish Pub in the Mandalay Bay Casino. Constructed from a pub meticulously restored in Ireland and then shipped to the Mandalay Bay, it had a very authentic feel. The shepherd’s pie was delicious with an immensely flavorful gravy surrounding the meat and vegetables and with lots of creamy mashed potatoes on top. Yum!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Las Vegas and the Western Veterinary Conference.