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Monday, January 16, 2012

North American Veterinary Conference 2012

Posted January 16, 2012
Written by Donald F. Smith, DVM, Cornell University

The North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) opened last Saturday in Orlando, FL. Traditionally the first major veterinary conference of the year, this is one of the two largest continuing education programs in the world for veterinarians, veterinary technicians, practice managers and other veterinary health professionals.

The location in central Florida makes the NAVC a popular site for northeastern and upper midwestern veterinarians to bring their families to escape the grip of winter and also enjoy Disney attractions. Attendees come from all over the U.S. and many foreign countries to update their knowledge and learn about the latest medical advances from over 350 speakers. The massive exhibition area also allows veterinarians to see and purchase the latest products from pharmaceutical and pet food companies, from diagnostic testing services, medical appliance companies, publishing companies and numerous other vendors.

The conference is also a place for friends and former classmates to gather and rekindle friendships. This intermingling is facilitated by alumni receptions that veterinary colleges host where they also share updates of their latest activities. Grandparents even come to Forida, taking their grandkids to Disney while Mom or Dad attends meetings.

Approximately 750 veterinary students also participate. Living on frugal budgets, they scour the internet for the least expensive flights to Florida, then squeeze into small hotel rooms and attend stimulating lectures from people whose textbooks they have been reading back home. Banfield Pet Hospital even sponsors a competition for veterinary students for bragging rights for their home institution.

Dr. Laurel Kaddatz, Hospital Director
of the Pound Ridge Veterinary Center (NY),
 2012 president of the NAVC
Photo by the author
 Barely 30 years old, this conference has grown from humble roots in the early 1980s. Like its counterpart, the Western Veterinary Conference (held every February in Las Vegas), the NAVC has eclipsed and often replaced many of the smaller state and college continuing education programs. The sheer magnitude of the conference and the quality and variety of programs (over a dozen daily lecture tracks, including the largest exotic animal medical program in the world), as well as the nightly entertainment and local central Florida attractions have catapulted the NAVC into its current prominence with approximately 14,000 professional attendees this year.

A non-profit educational venture, the NAVC is administered by a board, many of whom are veterinary practitioners. Laurel Kaddatz DVM (U. Minn '77) serves as 2012 president of the NAVC. He is a companion animal practitioner from Pound Ridge, NY, and past president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. He and his wife, Jacqueline hosted Saturday evening's President's reception at the Gaylord Palms Resort. A veritable who's who of veterinarians attended, including the AVMA president and most of the Executive Board, numerous veterinary college deans, and leaders from industry.

Dr. Smith invites comments at