In one month, I’ll be attending the North American Veterinary Conference (NAVC) in Orlando, Florida. This is the world’s largest veterinary conference, and draws over 8,000 attendees.

Being that there are only about 80,000 veterinarians in the United States, it’s amazing to have 10 percent of the veterinary population descend upon the sunny state of Florida. (I always joke that Floridians must hate this time of the year, as the street billboards and street signs are covered in flea and tick advertisements, and pictures of gastrointestinal parasites. Gross!)

Well, I’m honored to be the upcoming NAVC Small Animal Speaker Program coordinator for the upcoming three years. This task will be daunting, as there is a huge amount of logistics necessary to organize this massive conference. (Thankfully, NAVC has an amazing support team, so the conferences always proceed without any major hiccups!)

My responsibilities?

  • Picking the top veterinary specialists, veterinary technicians and leaders in our field to help teach lectures and laboratories
  • Identifying the most practical, yet cutting edge topics that veterinary professionals need to be aware of
  • Finding speakers that veterinarians, veterinary students and veterinary technicians want to hear from (Trust me, there are some really smart ones out there that put classrooms to sleep!)

Another fun aspect of this position? Helping to identify topics that will increase awareness for a mass group of veterinarians, including:

  • The unnecessary slaughter of the exotic animals that escaped their "sanctuary" in Ohio in October 2011
  • Where the veterinary profession is moving
  • Gender imbalances (Currently, over 70 percent of veterinarians are young females, with many leaving the field shortly after graduating to start a family)
  • Debt load (The average veterinarian graduates with $100,000 to $250,000 in debt after eight years of school)
  • The pay-off (or lack thereof): salary differences that don’t allow veterinarians to pay off their loans well
  • Generational differences in working with your colleagues (e.g., Baby Boomers vs. Generation X vs. Generation Y)

The best thing about the role as NAVC small animal speaker program coordinator? Finding practical ways of educating veterinary professionals so that your veterinarian, veterinary student or veterinary technician will be the best advocate for your pet.

If you could teach your veterinary staff a few things as a pet owner, what would it be? Bedside manner? Management skills? Ways of communicating?

Hit me now! It’s your opportunity to give input!

Dr. Justine Lee

Image: Andy Dean Photography / via Shutterstock