5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Veterinary Conferences in 2022
With the new season of in-person and virtual veterinary conferences that started in January 2022, you're likely excited to dive into the available sessions and soak up all that new knowledge. However, when heading to a large veterinary conference, such as VMX or WVC, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed with the multitude of opportunities offered.
How can you avoid feeling overwhelmed at veterinary conferences?
When planning your veterinary conference adventure, follow these five time management tips to maximize your continuing education (CE) experience.
1. Find Ways to Connect With Colleagues
When attending a veterinary conference, there are so many things to see, do, and learn that connecting with colleagues can be difficult. But, networking is a key part of conferences that allows you to discuss innovative ideas. Before the conference begins, read through the program and identify speakers and exhibitors you'd most like to connect with. Reach out to them prior to the conference to set up a meeting if you'd like to chat in person, or jot down their contact details to talk about their lecture after attending.
In addition to perusing the lecture schedule prior to the veterinary conference, check out the networking events. If a cocktail mixer doesn't really sound like your thing, trivia may be more up your alley. Remember, you don't have to attend all the events; pick activities that will connect you with like-minded individuals.
2. Plan Your Schedule to Avoid Running All Over
Without a well-structured plan or personal schedule, you might find yourself rushing from one end of the veterinary conference center to the other—and then back again. Read through the conference materials ahead of time, download the conference app, and mark the lectures, workshops, and exhibits that interest you. Create a rough schedule of the events you would like to attend, and plot your path through the conference center so you know where you're headed at the end of each lecture.
Don't feel obligated to max out your day with lectures. Those 6:30 a.m. talks come early after a night spent enjoying a breakout discussion about a topic you're passionate about or the social events that often follow. Instead of cramming your schedule, choose the lectures most promising to your current career path. There will be plenty of veterinary CE opportunities throughout the year to obtain the credits you need for license renewal.
3. Map Out Your Plan for the Veterinary Conference Exhibit Hall
Stepping into the veterinary conference exhibit hall can be an overwhelming experience, and you can easily spend several hours wandering from booth to booth. To avoid getting caught up talking and shopping at the expense of veterinary CE credits, take steps to manage your time appropriately. Map out the booths you want to hit to learn more about innovative medications, treatments, products, and services. In the market for a new piece of equipment? Often, you'll find great deals that occur only during conferences, so plan time to talk to the distributor.
4. Create a Convention To-Do List
During each veterinary conference lecture, highlight a key idea to implement when you return to your practice. After hours of lectures, for days at a time, the information can all meld together, making it difficult to recall the points that resonated with you. Compile a to-do list from these main points, and share them with your practice team during a lunch meeting within a week of the conference. Any longer, and you're likely to let those great ideas gather dust and be forgotten.
5. Take Time to Recharge at the Conference
Although you may feel guilty if you aren't always in a lecture, scoping out the exhibit hall, or networking, give yourself a break. In fact, taking some time throughout the veterinary conference to recharge will revitalize your passion and enable you to absorb more of the new information you've gained. So, instead of packing your schedule to the brim and burning out on constant busyness, incorporate periods of rest and reflection in your conference experience.
Planning in advance will allow you to pinpoint which topics will be of most benefit to your practice, patients, and career. After you've successfully tackled your first veterinary conference of 2022, bring home new insights and knowledge to share with your team. By using effective time management strategies at veterinary conferences, you'll start off 2022 with a refreshed zeal for patient and client care.