Congress aims to provide ‘useful CPD for clinicians at all stages of their careers’ - Veterinary Practice
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InFocus

Congress aims to provide ‘useful CPD for clinicians at all stages of their careers’

THE reputation that the annual
BSAVA congress has as the biggest
and best companion animal meeting
in Europe – and one of the largest in
the world – has been hard-earned.

So the
organisers – fully
aware that downhill
fast is the only
direction that a top-
performing
organisation can go if it makes an ill-
considered move – work equally hard to
make sure that the event continues to
provide the quality CPD activities and
evening entertainment that draws
thousands of veterinary surgeons and
nurses to Birmingham each April.

The association’s congress
committee, chaired by Bedfordshire
practitioner Farah Malik, and its
permanent staff, led by congress
manager Amanda Stranack, make every
effort to find out what sort of
programme the members want and to
monitor the response to any
modifications to a tried and tested
formula.

“We have a number of focus groups of both members and non-members to
find what is really important for them at
congress and to make sure that when we
do change things, we are not throwing
away the baby with the bathwater,” Ms

Stranack said.
The most visible difference at the
2014 congress will
be the absence of
the veterinary students in brightly-coloured sweatshirts
who have historically served as stewards
at the event.

“The workload for the stewards was
getting so tough that they were working
long hours and not getting much chance
to attend the lectures, which was the
reason why they agreed to help out. So
we have given that role to staff from the
conference centre and students from a
local college.

“The vet students will still be there
but through the bursary scheme which
gives 50 students from clinical years the
chance to attend and they can hear as
many lectures as they want,” Ms Malik
says.

Clinical year students and new graduates will also get
their own stream in the
congress programme on
Sunday with a series of
presentations giving them
practical advice on
getting their first job and
in coping with the new
challenges it is likely to
bring.

Ms Malik describes
the scientific programme
as designed to provide
useful CPD for clinicians
at all stages of their
career and the organisers will try new
formats that suit the needs of a
particular group.

So in addition to the conventional
lectures lasting 30 to 60 minutes, there
will be increasing numbers of small
group sessions and a new format of 20-
minute sessions looking at “what’s new”
in the treatment of common diseases.

The latter should appeal to those experienced practitioners
who don’t want to sit
through material that they are already familiar
with in order to hear a
few minutes on the most
recent developments, she
said.

BSAVA is now a
meeting for all members
of the veterinary team
with the VN sessions
expanded this year into
four parallel streams. Last
year’s experiment in
providing CPD training
for practice managers
was also judged a success
and will continue for the
first three days of congress in the
Olympian suite.

That programme
includes a series of
presentations by the
inspirational US
veterinarian Ernie Ward,
one of the many major
international speakers
among the 120 who
have accepted
invitations to speak at
the congress.

The association’s
Australian-born president, Professor Michael Day, has
been keen to ensure that there is a
strong international perspective to the
organisation’s work and that is reflected
in the programme which will include
contributions from two UK
veterinarians who have done some of
their best work abroad.

Dr Sarah Cleaveland of the
University of Glasgow will give an update on her team’s
work in controlling
rabies in wild and
domestic animals in
East Africa while Luke
Gamble will describe
progress with the
Mission Rabies project
to cut the cost of that
condition in India by
vaccinating thousands
of dogs.

BSAVA is equally
concerned about the
dangers of exotic
diseases in the pet
population in the UK.
In the “Big Issues”
sessions, members will
hear from the chief veterinary officers of the devolved
administrations on their efforts to
prevent the introduction of new disease
threats through the illegal importation
of puppies, along with other political
issues of considerable concern to the
UK veterinary profession.

As well as dealing with weighty
scientific and political issues, the
congress is also intended to be fun.
Delegates will have the opportunity to
learn from a noted Dutch expert on the
use of social media in business, Gerrit Heijkoop.

Those practitioners who have yet to be convinced
of the value of this particular form of mass
communication, or simply don’t know where to start in finding out, will have a chance to
receive some one-to-one training in
the basics of using Twitter, Facebook
and the like.

The introductory lecture at the
congress is to be given by Professor
Alice Roberts of the University of
Bristol who has carved out a parallel
career as a BBC television presenter,
using her medical training in human anatomy to explain the inner workings of our own and other species.
And the highlight of the party night is another familiar face from the TV screen who should be able
to locate the funny bones of attendees: comedian
Marcus Brigstocke.

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