Straight talk

Are you ready?

The month of March signals the end of winter and the beginning of spring. For swine veterinarians, March signals the start of the annual AASV meeting. Are you ready? Several swine veterinarians were asked for their advice in getting the most value from attending the annual meeting. Here's what they had to say.

From Jerome Geiger

"Come prepared to SHARE. Share your insight, experience, and information. Travel with another practitioner - share questions, concerns, and experiences. Encourage or invite a future AASV member - a student, practitioner, whomever. Contact a veterinary student and share a ride. Meet and talk with students in the hallways; invite them to supper; listen to their ideas. Challenge one another in the presentations and in the hallway conversations. Ask for details. Encourage one another to be specific and science-based. Turn off your mobile phone, pager, beeper, or any other electronic communication, at least during the presentations. Don't be shy. Socialize. Take advantage of the receptions, dinners, lunches, as ways to meet new faces. Get a good night's rest beforehand. The pace is fast, the information plentiful, and the opportunities everywhere. The biggest challenge is not to burn out early."

From Sarah Probst-Miller

"I find it inspiring to spend time with students attending the AASV meeting. They are the future of our organization. I remember how swine veterinarians were so welcoming and encouraging when I was a student. This helped me make the decision to be a 100% swine veterinarian. I want to be sure that students considering swine medicine as a career know that they can call and discuss their options or spend time at the Carthage Veterinary Service anytime."

From Rodney Johnson

"The most valuable assets at the AASV meeting are the members. Network with as many as you can. The younger you are and the more people you get to know early in your career, the more your network will grow and become one of your most treasured assets. The AASV meetings are like fertilizer for our minds. Often what we learn inside the room is information; what we learn outside the room is knowledge."

From John Waddell

"What we've done in our practice is set a goal to bring back at least three ideas. If you go with that goal in mind, you are primed to look for the practical, take-home ideas. I've gone as far as creating a worksheet with ideas on one side and action items on the other so I can document ideas I want to implement. Prior to the meeting, peruse the meeting program so you can mark the topics that interest you the most."

From Larry Rueff

"I always start making a short list of veterinarians that I want to talk to at the meeting about some issues that I am seeing in practice. I like the face-to-face interaction and want to take advantage of it."

From Scott Dee

"Look over the program ahead of time and pick out three areas of interest that you want to focus on and gain more information. Ahead of the meeting, contact members who have expertise in those areas and set up times to get together to discuss and gain further insight. The rest of the meeting is best spent in the hallway discussing and socializing - this is where the important decisions are made."

From Max Rodibaugh

"Don't forget to walk through the exhibits at the meeting. It's a great opportunity to learn more about the products we're using in practice and to thank the exhibitors for sponsoring events at our meeting. The annual meeting is also a great place to establish a relationship with a company that you may not see on a routine basis."

From Cate Dewey

"Share your hotel room with a colleague. It gives you a chance for instant scientific review of the lectures that day, offers you a chance to bounce your daily career challenges off someone, and encourages you to come to the next meeting - your roommate is counting on you to be there."

From Kerry Keffaber

"When you learn as much between as during the sessions, you are starting to be educated. The practitioner you meet today will most likely have an answer to your questions of tomorrow. Make the connection."

From Al Scheidt

"Participate in pre-conference workshops, since they provide value on many topics. Utilize contacts at the meeting for learning some of the latest therapies used by practitioners (often learned in the hallways during breaks). Develop relationships at the meetings and nurture those throughout the year by e-mail and telephone so you can learn new technology each day, not just at the meeting."

From Lisa Tokach

"If multiple veterinarians from your practice are going to the meeting, try to plan ahead to attend different pre-conference and breakout sessions. You get more bang for your buck and it forces you to pay better attention if you know you are going to have to summarize it for others. Go to sleep early instead of catching up with your friends and drinking beer at the bar. That way you will be awake and attentive for the Howard Dunne lecture and you will set a good example for the students. I haven't personally tried this one, but it seems smart in theory."

From Daryl Olsen

"Attend all of the meeting, from the first to the last presentations. Get involved in the association. Serving as a director, on a committee, or as an officer will help members get the most out of time spent at the meeting."

-- Tracy Ann Raef