Dr. Ashley Craig
The American Association of Equine Practitioners holds an annual convention that practitioners and students alike can attend. The location rotates every year and the convention always seems to offer fun mixed in with great educational opportunities. As an intern, I got the privilege of attending the convention in Anaheim, California next door to Disneyland!
“Amazing”- is the only word that I can use to sum up the whirlwind four days that I spent at the AAEP convention. I flew out to California on Friday afternoon. Luckily, a fellow Tuskegee graduate and friend was on the same flight as me, so she and I got to catch up as we flew cross-country. Upon landing, I met up and caught a taxi with fellow Twitter friend- Dr. Nathan Voris. It was nice to spend the cab ride to the hotel discussing his job, my internship and the ins and outs of veterinary medicine. Parting ways at the hotel, I luckily got to meet up with my brother who drove down through L.A. traffic to have dinner with me. After spending some quality time with my older sibling, I headed straight to bed because I had an early start the next morning!
One of the main reasons I got to attend the AAEP Convention was due to my position on the Student Relations Committee. The AAEP has an executive board, board of directors and several committees that help direct the organization. The Student Relations Committee is involved in directing the student AAEP chapters at veterinary schools, providing the short courses at the schools, choosing scholarship winners, and handling most student related programming. Last year, I was chosen as one of two students to join the committee. As a strong believer in organized veterinary medicine, I was honored to be a part of not only the AAEP but also a committee.
Walking into the meeting, I took a look around and was excited to see three board of directors attending; students are important to the future of the profession! The agenda was detailed but the meeting went smoothly and ultimately the discussions were educational and important decisions made. Once the committee meeting was over, the discussions continued. I got to sit down with friend and mentor, Dr. Betsy Charles, for further talks relating to students, programming and also catching up on each other’s lives. What was supposed to just be a coffee turned into a three-hour conversation, which only ended because our other obligations started. It was a great time catching up with a great friend and someone who I respect greatly. That evening I headed off to spend the evening with two amazing ladies from the clinic, Nicole and Jamie. It was so enjoyable to spend time with these two friends away from the hustle and bustle of the clinic while also roaming around and socializing with other veterinarians and friends.
As Sunday started, the opening ceremonies and the keynote speaker officially started the educational part of the convention. With my fellow Hagyard’s field care doctors, Dr. Ernie Martinez and Dr. Stuart Brown, we tweeted the important messages from every meeting that we attended (follow us on twitter! We are entertaining and educational!). With a calendar full of educational topics, hot button issues and round table discussions, I bounced from room to room to absorb as much information as possible. Sunday and Monday were filled with information and flew by. Sunday afternoon, I got to attend the student luncheon and meet several members of the AAEP executive board. The chance to discuss issues in depth with the leaders of the industry was a once in a lifetime chance. That evening, I got to attend the Avenues event where students roam around and network with practices from across the country. Speaking with students about my internship, Hagyard and passing along my personal advice to them, was a great time. Meeting future equine practitioners is always enjoyable and working at such a great practice where I get amazing experiences made speaking with students even more fun! As a special treat after Avenues, I got to spend some time at Disneyland, courtesy of Pfizer, with Dr. Wolfsdorf, theriogenologist at Hagyard. It was a night of fun, enjoyment and the kid in me coming out.
After another day of exciting lectures and more networking, I finished the evening having dinner with several doctors from the practice. All too soon, it was time for me to board the plane and resume my duties in the field. So while I have described the convention as “Amazing”, one word doesn’t justify the time I had at the convention. While the education and committee meetings were very beneficial, I firmly believe that the greatest part of the convention, for me, was the networking opportunities. The chance to meet practitioners from all over the country, speak with the leaders of the equine veterinary world, and widen my network was the greatest part of the AAEP convention. Even though the jet lag hit hard once I hit Kentucky, I wouldn’t trade my time in California for anything. I came back even more determined to make my mark on the equine veterinary world. As I continue working, I hope to apply the lessons and knowledge that I acquired in my short time at the AAEP convention.