So what exactly happens at these so-called "conventions"? Primarily, learning. Lectures are given from 8am until 5pm every day. These lectures are on a variety of topics and presented in various ways. While lectures can be dry (come on, all of us went to high school and slept through the occasional class), they are presented in various formats.
It's not all lectures and labs, though. There is also a trade show with many vendors who offer products, services and equipment. These vendors obviously want you to buy their product, and there are a lot of similar products. How do we decide?? Well, that's part of our job. We visit multiple vendors and compare products between two or even more companies. We look for things such as published research which validate their efficacy, cost, and ease of use. We want to try to find not just the best products for us, but also the ones that fit our clients' needs the most.
I attended various lectures as well, on topics ranging from epidemiology to business. Dr. Pownall from McKee-Pownall Equine Services gave a great talk on the use of Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. At another lecture, I took away information regarding strengthening the hind limbs in cases of upward fixation of the patella. Some of the most fun I had was when I attended interactive lameness lectures. We worked up lame horses (via videos) as a large group and answered with small keypads. There were times that I wished I could use a phone a friend! As an example, one case seemed to be extremely lame and was hopping on its forelimb. After diagnostic blocks and imaging, the problem was found to be in the back near the withers! Pretty interesting, huh?
All in all, the convention was very useful. I returned with a lot of new ideas and got refreshers in some old ones. We purchased a new Powerfloat® which will expand our dental capabilities and allow us to better serve your horse. We don't attend these meetings just to hang out with our friends. While it's great to reunite with old acquaintances and make new ones, the real reason we attend these meetings is so that we can maintain the highest level of medicine possible and give you, our client, the best service. And we hope it shows!
PS Happy Thanksgiving!