Continuing education events are a massive part of the veterinarian industry. Veterinarians and Technicians watch online lectures, attend hands-on labs, take tests, and learn face to face, shoulder to shoulder at conferences. But that doesn't mean Practice Managers and other staff must miss out.
There are hundreds of conferences and continuing education events held each year in the United States, and hundreds more throughout the rest of the world. The AVMA alone has over 130 conferences, symposiums and events on its calendar for 2019 in the US. Attendance numbers can be astounding; close to 14,000 attended the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas in 2018, and almost 18,000 for NAVC’s VMX in Orlando.
These conferences can seem solely focused on DVMs and RVTs; the lectures and labs are often planned and held specifically for them to earn their credits.
But for those delegates who aren’t don’t need the credits from events like this, the learning opportunities, access to new products and services, inspiring speakers, awesome locations, and pure fun certainly make it worthwhile. Conference organizers understand this and are offering much more besides the CE-packed theaters.
Here's our top 5 reasons why Practice Managers should attend veterinary conferences
1. Never stop learning
As the Veterinary Hospital Managers Association says,
"What sets a great practice manager apart from the rest? They discover! They discover what is unique about the practice, the staff and their environment. They then integrate and process this information to introduce and implement thoughtful and effective change"
While they may not need credits, that doesn’t mean practice managers cant learn at conferences too. And we aren’t talking about clinical knowledge, there are lectures and discussions around important topics for any type of clinic:
- Human Resources: Learn how to solve some of your biggest challenges including staff recruitment & management.
- Business Management: Get help with improving your margin with your practice's tools and processes.
- Client Relationships: See how to turn a negative review into a relationship building experience and use your practice's online presence.
- Marketing: Stay ahead of the pack with actually usable tips and strategies.
- Compliance: Keep your practice safe by staying on top of new or looming compliance and legal topics.
We’ve even seen some courses about how to get your hospital design game on point by getting the most out of your architect. Whatever you want to learn about, chances are you can at a conference.
2. Have Fun
An average conference will run over several days and being in an intense learning environment will leave you wanting to blow off some steam. Get among the social events that are held over the course of the conference, whether it be happy hour drinks, gala dinner, fun runs, or field trips. You’ll always find something to suit and re-invigorate you. Some of our favorites that we’ve seen are puppy yoga, escape rooms, wine tasting, hiking, a Keith Urban concert, even Bungy Jumping for the brave souls out there.
These social events are also great networking opportunities, perfect for catching up with old friends and meeting new like-minded people. Throughout a conference, attendees will be rubbing shoulders with their peers, learning how other practice managers operate their clinics, what software they are using etc. Remember, you know things others don't. Each Practice Manager has had their own ups and downs and their own story to tell. The experiences you’ve had and the lessons you’ve learned can be immensely valuable to other attendees. You could even be their reason for returning!
3. See the latest & greatest products
Chances are, if you are attending a conference, you’re going to find yourself in the exhibit hall at some point. While the thought of a sales rep trying to sell to you while you make your way to the grazing station can be off-putting, the exhibit hall is the best place in the entire conference to get a close-up look at the latest technology, products, and services for your practice. An exhibit booth is a great place to get a hands-on demonstration of that one product or technology you’ve had your eyes on.
Pro tip – return to the exhibit hall when the other conference delegates are all in clinical theaters and lectures, you’ll be free to demo whatever product you want at the different booths without having to wait in line.
Some booths will have relaxing spaces for you to take a break from the hustle of the exhibit hall floor. Others will have interactive displays, games and competitions that help demonstrate their product, or just put you in the draw to win a prize. Nearly every other exhibitor will be giving away swag and merchandise too. Its fairly easy to return home with a suitcase full of free gear.
4. Travel to awesome locations
Many conferences that occur annually mix things up with new locations each year. It’s a great way to entice attendees to either visit that one location they’ve been meaning to get to, or help them attend by bringing the event to them in their hometown. We recently went to the WSAVA 2018 conference in Singapore, and will be heading to their next event in Toronto for 2019. A great location means everyone will be excited to attend (attendees, exhibitors and speakers alike), it will be relatively accessible with a close-by airport, and can even align with the conference's theme and message itself.
Then there are the destination conferences: the same conference held in the same location each year. The great thing about these conferences is that the organizers get really (really) good at hosting their event, which improves year-on-year; conferences like WVC in Las Vegas or VOS in Colorado are great events that thousands of attendees anticipate, eager to see what will be in store this year.
5. Get inspired by Keynote speakers
Not all the sessions held at a conference will be specific to any veterinarian discipline. Veterinary conferences draw keynote speakers that have given TED talks, are professional motivational speakers, or just downright entertaining. You'll be left invigorated and inspired with new ideas, ready to seize the rest of the event. There are some great keynote speakers going around the circuit now, from entrepreneurs, to adventure racers, to Hollywood actors (we cant wait to see Rob Lowe at VMX 2019). A keynote speaker will help identify and convey the main topic or theme of a conference and organizers often rely on them to lend some extra oomph to their event. Dr Andy Roark's "Sharpening the Axe" presentation at the AVA National Conference motivated us to communicate more effectively with our co-workers in 2017 and we loved seeing the inspirational Shiza Shahid speak on passion, entrepreneurship and empowerment at AVMA 2018.
If you’re looking to improve yourself and your practice in a fun and energizing environment, we think these are some of the most compelling reasons, of course we’re sure there are more.
Keep an eye out on the events that ezyVet are attending and come say hello, We’ll also be hosting our first ever annual user conference in March 2019, if you’re an ezyVet user we’d love to see you there.