Last week marks my 8th year attending the annual AVMA Veterinary Leadership Conference in Chicago. For those who might be interested in this event, start planning for next January!
Here is a link to see who should attend:
I attended my first meeting as an alternate delegate to the AVMA House of Delegates (HOD) with my 13-month old daughter and my mother (a.k.a. free nanny). I remember meeting seasoned leaders I revered who were mingling and inspiring up and coming leaders in the first decade of their careers. Since the HOD held a convened session, I was not able to attend and take part in the workshops and presentations that were offered to the emerging leaders, VMA officers, and executives (definitions of these categories can be found in the who should attend link above). All groups are together for inspiring talks in opening and closing sessions and I often have a good takeaway from these. Each year the conference has evolved to include more and more attendees and this year there were some exciting changes.
For the first time, members of the HOD were allotted time to attend workshops and enhance their leadership skills and knowledge base. Topics included: compassion fatigue and burn-out, how to attract and engage members in our associations, and critical leadership skills. The Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative (WVLDI) presented workshops on imposter syndrome in veterinarians and that ever elusive work-life balance. I was honored to be one of the speakers for these sessions.
Another exciting event was the WVLDI networking breakfast. The attendance was astounding! Men and women leaders of all generations came together to support each other and have some great roundtable discussions. Veterinary technician leaders were also invited to attend for the first time.
When I headed home from this conference I had a mixed bag of feelings. I felt:
- Inspired: by the personal stories of my colleagues. There are many opportunities for small group and one on one conversations at this event. I am awed by just how much we veterinary professionals do and what a twisted jungle gym our pathways through our careers and lives can be. I came away inspired to accept what my path has been so far and determined to forge a stronger pathway in the future.
- Connected: maybe it could be called the fellowship of the veterinarians but I left remembering what great people my fellow veterinarians are. Although we may not agree on who should be president of the United States, we often agree on the important issues the veterinary profession is facing and how critical it is that we find solutions together.
- Hopeful: that AVMA can be an association that reflects the values of its members and that it’s leadership can more accurately represent the members of the profession. I am hopeful that I and other AVMA leaders will continue to empower others in our profession to find their own leadership paths.