1. Define your goals.
AVMA hosts the flagship conference for veterinary medicine in the United States. But that is not the reason why you - specifically - are attending. Are you trying to get some high-quality CE? Are you hoping to hire a new associate? Or be that newly hired associate? Are you hoping to learn more about new hospital technologies or what veterinary medicine will look like in 10 years? Perhaps it is just to travel to beautiful Denver with your vet school buddies.
Attending a conference is a big commitment. Thinking about your goals for the conference can help you structure your weekend and squeeze the most out of your time.
2. Make a game plan.
AVMA is bursting with the most interesting and innovative topics in veterinary medicine. It can be hard to choose whether to attend a CE on thrombocytopenia or a yoga class with goats. (As pathology nerds, we choose the former, but to each their own!)
AVMA has an awesome online schedule and a handy app, so you can access all of the information prior to arrival. Pick some sessions that really interest you and write down their time and location. You will move smoothly through the conference without the stress that you might be missing something.
3. Be curious.
Okay, okay, we just recommended a serious game plan, but that does not mean you can’t deviate a bit. Pay attention to what catches your eye at AVMA. Is it a new piece of clinic technology? A modality that you learned in veterinary school but have not touched since? A way to better communicate with clients? Let the flow of your attention guide you through the conference. It might be telling you exactly what you’re missing in your practice. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, linger at booths, and sit in on novel sessions. Every person there is excited to tell you something about veterinary medicine. It’s your job to figure out what that something is.
4. Make new connections...strategically.
The upside? There are a lot of amazing people attending AVMA. The downside? There is no way you can meet them all. Think back to your goals for the conference. Identify 3-5 people who can help you reach your goals and think about questions you can ask them. Be brave when making the first networking move; the quiet conference-goer in the corner might just be the most interesting person in the room. And, of course, always be polite and kind.
5. Follow up.
After the last session ends and you have given your last longing gaze to the Rocky Mountain skyline, the conference still is not quite finished. This is a key time to follow up with the new people you met about the new ideas you encountered. Pursue a new professional interest or a big move for your clinic using your AVMA connections.
Don’t forget to say hi to us at AVMA and follow up after!
Booth 1726 in the Exhibition Hall