YOUNGER colleagues and veterinary students, in fact specifically students, are used to attending lectures from 9am until 5pm for five days a week and then working in the evenings. Old guys like me, or should I say more mature colleagues, find a four-day congress starting at 8.30am and ending at 6.45pm very hard work. I am writing this report at the airport exhausted, waiting for my flight home from last month’s World Equine Veterinary Association Congress, but extremely pleased that I made the effort to come. India is an extremely hospitable country. The people of Hyderabad pride themselves on their friendliness. I was staying a mile from the Novotel which housed the conference centre venue. This was ideal as the daily ride in an auto rickshaw costing only 50p gave me a taste of adventure every morning. In reality, I had a daily adrenaline rush as the roads in Hyderabad are chaotic. There is no road-rage, it is just how they are. My accommodation was the equivalent to a B&B although curry for breakfast was a little daunting! Dinner at night was only £1.50 so I saved a hatful of money. In fact, including the air fare, the cost of this conference was very similar to a BEVA congress.
The actual conference centre was toprate. It was certainly as good as any other I have been to. I had a swim every lunchtime to help keep myself awake for the after lunch lectures. This was an added bonus. I arrived a day early. My excuse was so I could get over the jet-lag but I had a great day out with some very close friends from South Africa. We were not on any organised tour but we had an excellent taxi-driver and a guide book. We went to a town buffalo dairy, walked round a magnificent fort and climbed high up in a mausoleum. Then the girls went shopping for silk. Luckily the bazaar had a cool, comfortable sofa so I enjoyed a snooze. I think they were shopping for so long that a better term was a sleep! The main CPD had five streams and covered an extremely wide variety of topics. Timing was good and synchronised and so moving from stream to stream was not a problem. Everything was in English. I felt very humbled by speakers from India, Mali, Thailand, South Africa, Brazil and many European countries all lecturing in a foreign tongue for them. The lectures I attended given by colleagues from the UK and the USA were in the minority. I can never go to an equine congress and miss any lectures on dentistry. Paddy Dixon did not disappoint me. His lectures were excellent and right up to date. I was delighted to attend Derek Knottenbelt’s dermatology lectures which are delivered in a style that not only allows me to learn but also are great entertainment. I appreciated the very wellorganised dermatology lectures by Annette Petersen. I hope BEVA can persuade her to come to the UK to share her extensive knowledge. The dermatology sessions were in the same stream as the welfare lectures, which I found very interesting as so many countries were represented as well as India.
Helping equines and people
There is a large amount of work being done world-wide to help not only the equines, particularly donkeys, but also to help the people who own them and need them. There is no doubt that the majority of equines in the developing world are looked after by children. Without their donkey, the hard task of carrying, water, wood, food, etc., would make their lives a complete drudgery. The genuine welfare work being carried out is a far cry from some of the rescue centres in the UK which do not rehabilitate the horses which come under their care but just herd them up on pastures. There were many other great speakers. I wish I could have attended them all but sadly so often the topics and speakers clashed and I had some very difficult decisions to take. As always I learnt a large amount from Dennis Brooks on ophthalmology and Sue Dyson’s clinical lameness case reviews were magnificent. I could listen for hours to Ed Robinson on respiratory problems. Kate Savage stepped in wonderfully at the last minute to give some cardiology lectures. The most memorable lecture of all, however, was Jean-Marie Denoix’s live demonstration of ultrasound. He kept us all enthralled by his skill and expertise. Actually scanning the stifle of an unsedated horse in a lecture hall is mind-blowing, particularly as the ultrasonographic pictures were shown on two big screens.
Real learning is very difficult to quantify after such an event. There is no doubt that learning is consolidated by the small discussions held over coffee at the breaks and I definitely learnt more than I have done at other conferences. One reason was that the trade exhibition was very limited. I understand this was mainly on account of the high cost of renting the area. However, it did mean than I spent little time looking at shiny instruments and elaborate medicine claims and a lot more time networking with other veterinarians from all over the world. Talking with colleagues after a lecture and listening to their views greatly enhances my learning and seems to make the original lecture and my few notes much more memorable. All the proceedings were given to delegates on a disc, which was excellent. This is particularly helpful when flying as the massive paper proceedings would have been very heavy. Another factor which increased my take-home learning was the very friendly informal social part of the congress. I did not spend my evenings at massive formal dinners drinking too much and so I was much fresher in the morning to attend to the lectures. I really enjoyed the Indian horses dancing at the welcoming evening and the magnificent setting of the gala dinner was extremely memorable. However, they ended in good time so I was not late to bed. I must be getting
old! Professional learning is not just about improving one’s clinical ability but also about improving the real clinical output from one’s practice. The welfare lectures put this into perspective for me. I hope when I return to my daily practice I will be thinking more of the welfare of the horse and less about my personal standing with the client. I also hope that I will spend more time listening to my clients and less time repeating my dogmatic opinions. So many problems in equine practice in the UK are caused by the horses being overweight. I will only be able to help these animals by
quietly working with my clients. They will never change their feeding regimes as a result of a didactic lecture from me.
I had no time to attend but there was other learning available. There was a two-day series of equine lectures for lay personnel which I understand from one of my South African colleagues was well worthwhile. There was also a two-day small animal programme which seemed to be well attended. I imagine the single-day session run by the FEI was very pertinent with the 2012 Olympics less than a year away.
Relevance of the CPD in India
Equines in Norfolk account for 75% of my work. All of the lectures on dentistry, dermatology, ophthalmology, respiratory problems, cardiology and lameness have a direct usage for this work. I never felt during the four days of the conference that such a technique, such a diagnostic test or the usage of such a piece of equipment was not relevant to my daily working life. India was good fun. I have a big thank you to Tim Greet, last year’s WEVA president, for bringing the congress to my attention. The learning was worthwhile and I would thoroughly recommend to any equine practitioner the next World Equine Veterinary Association meeting scheduled to be held in Budapest, a great city, in the autumn of 2013. I hope to go but having ridden a horse back from Budapest to Calais five years ago, I think I will go by air.