Formerly known as the NAVC Conference, the Veterinary Meeting & Expo offered an opportunity to visit sunny Orlando and learn from 17,383 people in the pet industry. Attendees started trickling into the Orange County Convention Center on Friday, February 2, with a lot of energy and excitement that carried them through until the last day of the conference.
Here's a recap of the top 7 activities attendees got a chance to experience during VMX 2018:
1. Be inspired by vet-friendly celebrities
Michael J. Fox set an honest tone for the conference with his opening session. As an award-winning actor and Parkinson's disease advocate, Michael talked about the difficult experiences in his life that have led to personal growth:
Musician Rob Thomas, from the band Matchbox Twenty, was also in the house! You might also know him from his collaborative hit with Santana, Smooth, and now for getting the vet crowd excited during his concert at VMX.
And let's not forget about TV persona Jeff Corwin, who specializes in conservationism work and environmental journalism. Just like in his TV show "Ocean Mysteries", Jeff had a message of action—to get us all to contribute to wildlife conservation.
2. Discuss veterinary trends for 2018
Two topics were front and center in various VMX sessions and conversations this year:
1. the role of technology in the vet space
2. the corporatization of the vet space
Too many things, but most worrisome is corporate & franchise take over of vet med. Lab groups, online pharma, telemedicine without vets. Future uncertain IMHO.— Rachel Wander, DVM (@DrRachelWander) February 7, 2018
It's true, big corporations are out there acquiring small players in the veterinary space. However, a corporate takeover in the next years is not likely since smaller players are starting to play to their advantages, such as pairing personal touch with technology.
For instance, at PetDesk, we have seen more and more veterinary practices looking to extend their personalized communication to push notifications and text messages, platforms actively used by their clients. Leveraging technology to further personalize experiences is key to nurturing relationships and remaining relevant in the veterinary space:
Well.... first disclosure: I am not a veterinary practitioner. Nevertheless, one clear #takeaway from #VMX2018 is the importance of relationships in delivering great outcomes. It's not just the human:animal bond but also the human:human one!— Sarah Hunter (@EsseHunter) February 6, 2018
3. Play with some pooches and kitties
VMX attendees got to enjoy the company of animals, but many decided to deepen that relationship by adopting pets right then and there. After you take a look at these human-animal bond puppies and mellow cats, you'll understand why it was hard to resist:
But that was not all... Jack Hannah, America's favorite zookeeper, made an appearance at VMX with no other than a super chill owl, giving his fans a chance to take a picture with both of them!
4. Run like there was a treat on the finish line
The 5k Fun(d) Run got many attendees running and sweating before a long day of conference activities. Its main purpose was to raise money for shelter dogs:
But humans weren't the only ones exercising! We actually got to see some skilled dogs perform their dock diving routines—here's a video of these Olympians in action.
And for those people that still had any energy left, there was a Zumba class after one of the evening sessions.
5. Learn from sessions, laboratories, and rounds
We reached out to attendees and asked them about what they had learned on their lectures. Here's what they reported back:
I really enjoyed learning tips and tricks for placing and keeping IV catheters in our exotic companion mammals! And a session about refractory diarrhea 💩 was very helpful, since I see that in practice every week!— Katie Hogan (@KatieHoganDVM) February 7, 2018
Currently listening to antimicrobial use in small animals, it is definitely changing how I view and treat multiple conditions.— Chelsea Correa, DVM (@CorreaDvm) February 7, 2018
Just did a rounds session on rabbit radiology - one of my favourite topics and it was very helpful!— Dr. Kim Hester, DVM (@khdvm) February 7, 2018
Personally, I’m looking forward to new pain management for the cats. I’ll be very interested to see when they hit the market— Korin Mediate (@Breyer913) February 8, 2018
With over 1,200 CE credit hours to choose from, there was more than enough opportunities to learn more about veterinary medicine at VMX.
6. Stroll around the expo hall for surprises
From going Back to the Future and taking a photo with the DeLorean time machine to learning more about technology in the veterinary industry, attendees had a blast walking around 650 booths. Many booths were giving away smiles for free while others were using props to receive smiles in return:
7. Reflect on the VMX experience
Going to VMX was a fun learning experience, but it does come at a cost (and not only a financial one!). There's so much to do before, during and after the conference, and so little time to relax and get some well-deserved sleep. Some attendees had to leave their dog intern in charge of the office. Other veterinary enthusiasts traveled long distances to attend VMX; I can bet you, though, that few had as long of a trip as Sarah, who came from Perth, Australia:
No worries. It has been a great show .... well worth the 52-hr round trip. 🚘🛫🛬🚘🐶 #VMX2018 🥂🚘🛫🛬🚘😩— Sarah Hunter (@EsseHunter) February 6, 2018
So I think it's safe to say (even if you flew from Australia) that attending VMX is an incredibly rewarding experience, worth all the sacrifices mentioned above:
If the stories on our blog post don't get you excited about VMX 2019, then we're at a loss for words. But don't worry, you don't have to wait until next year to see PetDesk again—we'll have a booth at WVC in March!