My family left yesterday for two weeks to go on vacation Up North. In our profession it can be difficult to take two weeks off in a row, so I will join them next week. In the absence of a three year old asking questions every five seconds, a baby crying for a nap and a dog barking at people walking by things seem eerily silent. A silence I am not typically use to, except for perhaps being on the road coming into an empty hotel room.
For most veterinarians we are lucky not to have to travel too often, to not live life in a suitcase and treat hotel rewards points as a badge of honor. Most of us are bound to our homes, and when the last suture is placed at work we come home to other jobs such as mowing lawns and cleaning the dishes. It is nice to get the occasional break from the daily grind and hop on an airplane and go to another destination. Continuing education gives veterinarians the very chance to get out of town and take a break from the daily chores at both the hospital and at home. The veterinary profession provides wonderful opportunities for continuing education throughout the year at numerous desirable destinations.
Fresh out of veterinary school it was not difficult for me to decide which meeting I would go to first, Vegas Baby! I joined a friend at the Western Veterinary Conference and not surprisingly we found quite a few other friends we had recently graduated with at the conference. It was a good conference to get my feet wet. In its massive size there were plenty of opportunities to learn, and limitless places to go have fun. My friend and I stayed at the Luxor and thought we should live as Pharaohs. We would attend the conferences by day and hit the Strip by night, each time getting back to our room a little later than the night before until deciding sleep was a luxury we could do without.
It was a fun trip and a good break from the daily grind. That was seven years ago, now things have changed a little bit. Now that I have children my desire to get on a plane and jettison somewhere alone is not what it used to be. Instead of coming into a quiet hotel room at night I rather be reading the same Curious George book for the third time to my son before he goes to bed. I am not as likely to run into and catch up with old class mates; they are likely home taking care of their little ones as well. Instead of eating a hamburger at a restaurant alone I rather be feeding sweat potatoes to my daughter at dinnertime. I understand the conferences offer activities for families, but if I am going to fly my whole family down to Orlando, we are likely going to be spending most of our time with Mickey and Donald.
The speed and dearth of information that this profession can throw at you can be overwhelming, continuing education is non-negotiable. National conferences are not the only source of updating a doctor as to what is new in the industry. Local association meetings, presentations put on by drug companies and webinars certainly provide ample opportunities to learn close to one’s own zip code. However there is no replacement to a national conference (the wet labs, the numerous choices in lectures, the amount of continuing education hours that can be earned in one day and the networking). The time to attend one national conference a year is minimal compared to so many other professions. Yet, as I am typing in my empty house right now I imagine sitting alone in a quiet hotel room wondering what book my wife is reading to the children before bed.
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