Anticipation building for record-breaking AAHA Nashville 2014

The program for AAHA’s yearly conference, scheduled for March 20-23 in Nashville, Tenn., is packed with fascinating speakers, entertaining events, and unique educational opportunities.

With about two weeks to go, AAHA Nashville 2014 has already broken the previous registration record since 2000, with the exception of the 2011 Toronto conference that was held jointly with the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association.

The quickly growing attendance numbers speak to the quality of the event, said Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, chief executive officer of AAHA.

“The fact that we are beating registration numbers makes me believe that our profession is beginning to recognize and appreciate all of the hard work our team has put into rejuvenating and improving AAHA’s yearly conference,” Cavanaugh said. “We are thrilled to be welcoming our members and friends to Nashville in just two weeks!”

Although the entire conference program can be viewed at the AAHA website, NEWStat decided to ask AAHA staff members to discuss conference highlights they are eagerly anticipating. Here are some of their responses.

Michael Cavanaugh, DVM, DABVP, chief executive officer of AAHA, on AAHA's progressive board of directors

On Sunday, March 23rd at AAHA’s Accredited Practice Breakfast, Dr. Kate Knutson completes her presidential term and becomes immediate past president. At that time Dr. Kate Crumley becomes AAHA president and Dr. Tracey Jensen becomes AAHA president-elect and Dr. Nancy Soares becomes AAHA vice president.

Having four consecutive female presidents is a first in our profession and for any major veterinary organization. This reassures me that the makeup of AAHA’s board of directors is reflecting the demographics of our membership and the entire veterinary profession. I am so proud to be part of such a forward-thinking, progressive, and relevant organization in AAHA.

Kate Spencer, AAHA communications manager, on John Paul DeJoria as keynote speaker

When I first heard that billionaire businessman John Paul DeJoria would be our keynote speaker this year in Nashville, I admit I was a little surprised. What could a guy who made his fortune with hair care and liquor products have in common with veterinarians? As it turns out, actually a lot more than one would think! Best known as co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and the Patron Spirits Company, DeJoria’s tale is a true rags-to-riches story, one that I think anyone can relate to. 

I spent some time with DeJoria and his boisterous golden retriever Joey in his California home last summer (the DeJoria family loves their golden retrievers). In between head scratches for Joey, DeJoria told me how he started his hair care business with a loan for a mere $700 after his financial backer pulled out. Passionate about his products and about the good he believed he could do, he dedicated himself to the business, even sleeping in his car for several weeks while the business was in its early stages. Today, the now-billionaire businessman and philanthropist heads up John Paul Pet, a line of pet grooming products that are tested on humans first.

I believe his story is really something that any struggling business owner can relate to, and something that all veterinary professionals should hear. I’m excited to see DeJoria again in Nashville, and to hear what he has to share with our veterinary attendees. Even though Joey won’t be there to help DeJoria tell his tale a second time, I promise that our AAHA attendees won’t want to miss it.

April DeMinco, AAHA product marketing manager, on learning from business guru Kerry Plemmons

Kerry Plemmons is an incredible facilitator with so much valuable knowledge to share. I first saw him talk at AAHA Denver 2012 and it was incredibly inspiring. After his session, I not only wanted to have the impact he has as a facilitator, I couldn’t wait to implement what I learned. I use those concepts and ideas in my job regularly to this day.

Kerry Plemmons’s track, “Monetize Great ideas in Your Practice,” is one you don’t want to miss at AAHA Nashville.

Ben Williams, editor of Trends magazine, on attending the Veterinary Think Factory

The session I am excited about this year is the Veterinary Think Factory. This will be my third year attending and reporting on the Veterinary Think Factory, and each time I go is more interesting than the last. The Veterinary Think Factory is designed to spark conversations and in my experience it works very well. And since this year’s session is directly tied to the State of the Industry, it should be a real eye-opener.  

It takes place on Friday, March 21, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Come early, since seating is limited!

John Fritschler, AAHA director of education, on the unique AAHA Live Surgery Suite

The AAHA Live Surgery Suite has been a very successful series for AAHA. It uses an unprecedented 12-story-wide by 2-story-tall HD screen and therefore these sessions need to be held in the Nashville Grand Ballroom as it will not fit in a normal classroom. No other conference has anything like this available and because of the clarity and the ability to bring in an expert to walk the audience through each procedure, we will only be holding this in one room at a time this year. 

You will get to see everything from start to finish in these sessions; it will be a great team learning environment. We will also have these sessions available on our new online learning library - among over a thousand hours of online education available for people to watch. 

Take your learning to the next level with our live discussions on pre- and post-op care; pain management; what to expect during the surgical procedures; and the instruments, tools, and drugs used. Ask questions and learn from the experts in this great educational program.

Just the tip of the iceberg

The AAHA yearly conference is brimming with additional activities such as Late Night with AAHA, photography tips for your practice from an award-winning photographer, the AAHA State of the Industry address, and award presentations for AAHA-accredited practices.

For the full lineup of events and highlights, visit the AAHA 2014 Yearly Conference section on AAHA’s website.