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|Complexity of Conference|
Are we still planning to descend on Nashville in September?
The answer to the question is a simple “yes”. We are still planning to hold our Annual Conference in Nashville in September. But it’s a complex issue with lots of unknowns. Read on.
What we know:
Several state and national veterinary medical associations that had conferences scheduled from late February through July have cancelled their meetings, including the AVMA.
State Boards of Veterinary Medicine are considering changing the CE rules this year because of the pandemic. Some are suggesting changing CE deadlines. Some are changing the number of hours gained by interactive distance learning that will be allowed for CE. The CE issue is constantly changing, and veterinarians are encouraged to check with their own State Boards to get the latest rulings.
Some zoos are opening up starting this month with limits to the number of guests, traffic flow changes, and food service and gift shop changes. All are focusing attention on social distancing.
On 5 May the American College of Veterinary Surgeons opened registration for its "in person" conference in Washington, DC 21-24 October. It includes workshops and lectures.
There is an intangible value for AAZV members and non-members to meet in person. Cases get discussed, research collaborations are made, and friendships are renewed. That said, the Executive Committee is also considering whether a virtual conference might be possible if we are unable to hold the Conference as planned.
We are under contract with the hotel in Nashville. We just got word that they are currently open and expect to be open in September. If we cancel the contract, there is a severe financial penalty that AAZV would have to pay the hotel as outlined in the contract.
Things are changing rapidly. What we “knew” yesterday may not be the same as what we “know” today. No person on earth can predict the future.
What we don’t know
How many of our members would be able to attend? Many zoos have travel bans in place due to financial constraints. We don’t know how many will be lifted. We don’t know how many of our members will self-fund a part or all of their CE this year. Some have airline credits from trips cancelled earlier in the year. We also don’t know how many veterinarians from WDA, AAWV, AEMV, etc. would come to our Conference because their conferences have been (or will be) canceled.
How many of our members will feel safe traveling in September, and how many will feel safe returning to their family members and co-workers after traveling and attending a conference?
How many of our members will be able to satisfy their CE requirements by attending an interactive distance learning venue?
How will social distancing look in September? Will there be any new pharmaceuticals available to make COVID-19 no worse than the flu? What percentage of our members will have already had it, and will they have an immunity to it?
Will members and non-members alike feel such a need to meet with “family members” that they will self-fund their CE this year? Will zoo officials make exceptions to their travel bans if it means their veterinary staff could lose their licenses?
Will government officials in Tennessee or Nashville prohibit large groups from meeting in September, in which case we can get out of the contract with the hotel with no penalty?
So will we have an in-person Conference or not in September?
We could add on to the “don’t know” list, but you probably get the picture. It’s complex. The decision will be based on what we think is in the best interest of our members. The members of your Executive Committee, Scientific Program Committee and staff are working hard to steer the ship in these turbulent waters. But at the present time, we can’t even make an educated guess as to the probability of holding the Conference or not holding it. Please bear with us, and we will provide updated information as we get it.
Julie Swenson along with many other colleagues participated in a release of scimitar horned oryx back into the wild. Check out the story HERE.