As a journalist, I have the good fortune to attend several professional conferences, symposia and seminars over the course of each year. The educational opportunities these events offer are beyond measure, both in the content of the presentations and the networking and social interaction that occurs in the hallways during breaks and around the meal tables.

Attending these events, I’m always impressed by the thirst for knowledge among participating veterinarians and the excellence of your professional organizations such as the American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP), the Academy of Veterinary Consultants (AVC) the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) , state veterinary medical associations, WVC and others.  

It also strikes me that many veterinarians are not members of these professional organizations, or if they belong, rarely capitalize on the opportunities their events offer. Continuing education (CE) credits provide a big incentive for participation as veterinarians work to meet their requirements, but the benefits of belonging to and participating in these organizations extend much further.

Our “Association Update” column in the upcoming February issue outlines some of AABP’s initiatives and events for this year, including their Annual Conference in September. AVC holds three conferences each year in different locations, offering CE credits and a great chance for networking among beef-cattle veterinarians. For those who cannot attend, AVC posts conference presentations on its website (avc-beef.org) for free access by members.  The WVC conference takes place in March and AVMA holds their annual convention in July. (See the “Events” listing on page 34.)

Two of the articles in the February issue, “Saving Sick Calves” on page six and “Seize the Complaint” on page 20 began as Practice Tip presentations at the 2016 AABP Conference – just a tiny sample of the educational information available at that event.

Also in the same issue, we look at mental-health and wellness issues for veterinarians. AVMA, AABP and other organizations have embraced this issue and have developed programs, conference content and online tools aimed toward improving emotional well-being among veterinarians and students. Besides those programs though, participation alone can benefit your mental outlook as well as your professional development. In speaking with sources for the wellness article, it became clear that isolation, coupled with stressors common to veterinary practice, can breed burnout and depression, while personal interactions with other professionals can refresh your attitude, improve your perspective and rejuvenate your love for veterinary medicine. Participation in professional organizations and their events provides an opportunity to connect with peers who share the same challenges you face, learn, ask questions, find a mentor or become a mentor.  If nothing else, you can swap stories with other veterinarians over a beer or a great meal, while also earning your required CE credits.

If you haven’t made any New Year’s Resolutions for 2017, some good ones might be to join one of your associations and attend at least two veterinary conferences. I hope to see you there.