Our top picks for BSAVA Congress - Veterinary Practice
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Our top picks for BSAVA Congress

Returning to Birmingham for the 30th year, what does BSAVA Congress 2020 have to offer?

BSAVA Congress is returning in April for its 63rd year, and is set to be bigger and better than ever. With over 450 hours of CPD available to choose from, delivered by over 100 internationally recognised speakers and experts, BSAVA Congress 2020 is sure to have content for every small animal veterinarian and veterinary nurse, no matter where your interests lie.

Taking place between 2 and 5 April 2020, this will be the last time the event is held in Birmingham before moving to Manchester next year. The programme has been especially curated by members of the veterinary community, designed to tackle the current needs of the profession with topical, clinically relevant and evidence-based content which is accessible by all – from new graduates to the most experienced members of the profession.

As well as lectures and practical sessions spread over 14 streams, delegates can also attend the exhibition hall to stay up to date on the latest products and services the exhibitors have to offer. This exhibition is free for all vets, nurses and practice staff, and includes access to the exhibition learning zone. This stream will take place on 2, 3 and 4 April and will feature content organised and delivered by different exhibitors at congress.

Keynote lecture and BSAVA awards

The keynote speaker at BSAVA Congress 2020 will be Dragons’ Den star Jenny Campbell. Being a successful entrepreneur, Jenny will be discussing how she balanced the demands of her career with her family commitments. This talk will be taking place on 3 April at 7pm.

Following this, the annual BSAVA Awards will be taking place, where the association recognises the outstanding contributions in the field of small animal veterinary medicine and surgery and honours recipients who have been nominated by their colleagues for their dedication to veterinary science.

On the morning of Friday 3 April, 2020 Bourgelat Award winner Ed Hall will be giving four talks on topics in gastroenterology. First looking at canine gastroscopy and IBD, he will then explore the use and abuse of gastrointestinal drugs, and probiotics and faecal microbial transplants.

“Open to all” sessions

BSAVA Congress 2020 boasts more “open to all” streams than ever before. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, there will be short talks throughout the day showcasing advances in the field of veterinary science, featuring clinical abstracts in various fields including anaesthesia, dermatology, infectious diseases and endocrinology, as well as non-clinical research too.

Thursday features streams on cardiology and orthopaedics for beginners, and a stream focusing on pain and rehabilitation. The RCVS will also be hosting a programme which covers topics such as the practice standards scheme and the Mind Matters initiative, as well as an RCVS VN Futures stream in the afternoon.

On the Friday, “open to all” sessions will include streams on neurology and infectious diseases, and a stream dedicated to continuous quality improvement hosted by RCVS Knowledge. Critical care, trauma medicine and anaesthesia will be “open to all” streams on the Saturday, as well as a stream looking back on the last 30 years of veterinary medicine, in alignment with this being the 30th year of the event in Birmingham.

On Saturday afternoon there will also be a stream aimed at students with a series of “where do you start” talks. On Sunday, three streams will be open to all, two specialised ones on clinical pathology and dentistry, and one stream looking at topics beyond the clinics. This will include discussions surrounding perfectionism, resilience training and mentoring.


All BSAVA members are welcome to join the BSAVA AGM in the Kingston theatre on Sunday 5 April from 10:45am. Following this, BSAVA President Sue Paterson will be hosting Cal Major of Paddle Against Plastic, for a conversation on their vision and their work to create a more sustainable future.

Veterinary surgeons

There is a comprehensive programme for veterinary surgeons across the four days of congress, covering topics ranging from common consults and challenges in imaging to specialist topics such as ophthalmology and dermatology. The content is especially curated to suit all levels of expertise. For example, the endocrine stream on Sunday 5 April has general content in the morning, but the stream features more advanced content in the afternoon. There are also three advanced veterinary practitioner (AVP) specific streams focusing on surgery, anaesthesia and diagnostic imaging.

Interactive sessions

An important feature of this year’s congress is the large amount of interactive sessions, indicated on the programme by a specific logo. On Thursday 2 April, interactive sessions focusing on GI disorders will be taking place throughout the day in hall 1. In addition to this, three interactive “orthopaedics for beginners” sessions will be taking place in the afternoon in hall 5, and short picture quizzes can be found in hall 8, on topics including among others neurology, laparoscopy and dentistry.

On the Friday, the popular “what’s your diagnosis” interactive stream returns, featuring sessions on various conditions such as the jaundiced dog, the dog with epistaxis, unusual patterns of oestrus and the rabbit with weight loss. There will also be interactive sessions on neurology on Friday, and anaesthesia on Saturday.

Nursing streams

Each day of congress there will be three lecture streams dedicated to small animal veterinary nursing. On 2 April, there will be streams dedicated to feline medicine, brachycephalic obstructive airway syndrome (BOAS) and advanced nursing focusing on analgesia, looking at new advances in canine and feline pain recognition and scoring and a review of medical cannabis among others. On 3 April, the three nursing streams will be focused on anaesthesia, canine medicine and nutrition separately.

On the Saturday, specialised streams on neurology, cardiology and surgical/theatre nursing will be taking place. The first will host talks ranging from nursing seizure patients and nursing considerations for the spinal patient to neurology trauma emergencies. The surgical nursing stream will focus on rehabilitation and discharge planning, as well as checklists and skin preps. The cardiology schedule is split into two halves: the morning will be more generalised content, whereas the afternoon will be directed at nurses with more advanced knowledge in cardiology.

On the last day of the event there will also be three nursing streams: emergency and critical care, looking into things such as coagulation tests and hypotension; district veterinary nursing, exploring the impact of this in the wider community and nursing at home; and behaviour, ethics and welfare, where there will be discussions about punishments of pets and considerations when treating pets of owners of no fixed abode.

Practical and small sessions

Besides the lectures and interactive sessions mentioned previously, there are other sessions in which you can get hands-on experience at BSAVA Congress 2020. These sessions are priced separately to BSAVA Congress tickets. Spaces are limited and filling up fast, with some sessions already sold out.

Wet labs will be held at Birmingham Medical School on the Thursday and Friday of congress. These will include sessions on the use of cytology in practice and on surgery of the small intestine. There will also be a session on surgical and anaesthetic considerations in chickens and a rabbit anatomy refresher.

Practical sessions will be taking place at another venue, The Lodges, Austin Court, on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday. On the Thursday, there will be an introduction to root canal therapy in the morning and an introduction to composites in the afternoon. On the Friday, a session on flexible endoscopy will teach delegates to manipulate an endoscope to take biopsy samples, among other things. Finally, Saturday’s session will provide a practical introduction to internal fixation.

As well as these, a number of small group sessions will be taking place throughout BSAVA Congress 2020. Ranging from oncological imaging to reconstructive surgery and thyroid disease, there are plenty of topics to get involved with, no matter where your interests lie. There is also a nursing specific session on advanced ECG interpretation, and a session open to all on the highs and lows of medical cannabis.


Non-clinical content is planned throughout congress. On the first day, the focus will be on compassion and well-being, with a stream on understanding empathy, organised in association with Blue Cross, focusing on understanding the pet owner, in particular in terms of end-of-life care, and a stream hosted by Vetlife focusing on the importance of caring for carers and building and supporting compassionate teams.

A leadership programme is organised by SPVS on Friday 3 April, exploring topics in sustainability in veterinary practice and the power to influence with communication strategy. The Veterinary Management Group (VMG) are hosting a stream on Saturday 4 April focusing on veterinary management, specifically topics such as managing staff turnover and the difference between leadership and management.

Social calendar

This year marks the last time BSAVA Congress will be held in Birmingham, and the social calendar is one not to be missed. On Friday 3 April, after the BSAVA Awards and keynote lecture, join your colleagues for the annual President’s reception for an evening of food and entertainment. Limited tickets are available to book so make sure to secure yours now.

The following day, join other delegates at the V20 party night from 7.30pm, which will include some whacky prizes at Bongo’s Bingo from 8pm, after which Satellite Down will be sure to get you on the dance floor with their wide repertoire of music. Following their set, if you’re still full of energy then grab some headphones and take part in the annual BSAVA Silent Disco.

For more information about BSAVA Congress 2020 and to book your tickets to congress, the practical sessions or the social events, visit BSAVA Events’ website.

Veterinary Practice

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