AAHA celebrates 73rd meeting

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Long Beach, Calif. - More than 1,365 veterinarians and 1,050 veterinary professionals were in attendance at the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 73rd-annual conference in Long Beach, Calif.

LONG BEACH, CALIF. — More than 1,365 veterinarians and 1,050 veterinary professionals were in attendance at the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) 73rd-annual conference in Long Beach, Calif.

The 73rd-annual AAHA conference brought 3,565 attendees, including 1,365 veterinarians, an increase from last year's attendance.

The conference attendees included 250 guests and 900 exhibitors to total about 3,565 people.

Team-based learning was a main focus of continuing education programming, which included the second National Conference for Veterinary Technician Specialty Academies (NCVTSA).

"Make protocols as a team when making client-based decisions," says Dr. Nan Boss, owner of Best Friends Veterinary Center. "The staff's input can be very helpful."

Boss spoke at several sessions, emphasizing the importance for veterinarians to work with office staff to install workflow protocols and practice standards of care.

"If you want to increase the number of dental procedures your practice performs, start to grade teeth upon examination," Boss says. "Create a binder to add protocols as you find them. Pick one area at a time and keep it simple — start with what you include in a physical exam."

Educating clients about exam findings is critical, Boss adds. Findings determine what tests to run next — exam fees are increased accordingly.

"People have different learning styles," Boss says. "Some want detailed information; some want bullet points; some want to immediately know the bottom line and others are analytical. You can get an idea about how individual clients might learn by talking to them for a few minutes. Do not make decisions for clients, and give them a copy of all test results."

Other news includes:

  • Dr. Michael Andrews took the reins as AAHA president.

  • AAHA announced an estimated date of release for their diagnostic code project (see story).

  • More than 330 hours of continuing education (CE) credit was offered.

  • Four-time Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans delivered a motivational keynote address.

  • Specialty financial benchmarks were presented.

  • Attendees discussed updated canine vaccine guidelines and new shelter medicine section.

  • AAHA Helping Pets Fund one-year anniversary/expansion of program.

AAHA Helping Pets Fund

AAHA encouraged more practices to join their AAHA Helping Pets Fund during the conference, saying the fund is a way to strengthen ties with their communities.

The association marked the launch of the fund, announcing more than 1,500 pets had been helped in 2005 through grants totaling more $310,000.

"We hope to help 700 more pets by June 30, 2006; our total goal for 2006 is $500,000 for the fund," says Jack Hoops, general manager, AAHA Foundation.

AAHAs conference allowed veterinarians to choose from more than 330 hours of continuing education credit hours.

The fund was established to help those in need access veterinary care for their sick or injured pets. The fund allows each enrolled practice $500 per calendar year for financial-hardship cases and $200 annually for good-samaritan cases. The money is given directly to the veterinary practice.

"Census figures listing the percent of people that own pets and the percent of people that say the cost of veterinary care is a factor to whether their pet receives treatment, you find that more than 1 million pets go without needed veterinary care annually," Hoops says. "AAHA Helping Pets Fund was created to change that."

The AAHA Helping Pets Fund began accepting grant applications April 1, 2005. As of Dec. 1, more than 850 pets had been helped through grants totaling more than $102,000.

"On the fund-raising side, more than 100 AAHA practices participate in the gift program, while more than 150 practices have expressed interest in participating in the practice-level volunteer network," Hoops says. "On the grant making side, approximately 210 hospitals have obtained helping pets fund grants for pets they have helped within their practice."

The Humane Society of the United States/AAHA Katrina Pet Wellness Program benefited 794 pets and was administered by the AAHA helping Pets Fund through grants totaling $73,200, part of the $310,00 grants from 2005.

The Hurricane Heartworm Treatment Program has helped fund treatment for 558 pets valued at $223,000; $150,000 was donated by HSUS. The ASPCA and the Humane Society of Greater Miami & Adopt-A-Pet, also contributed part of the $310,000.

After enrolling in the program, practices will receive a practice-level fundraising campaign kit. To apply for funding, practices must submit documentation on behalf of the animal in need. Visit www.aahahelpingpetsfund.org.

Funding is available when owners are on government assistance for low-income individuals, owners are experiencing financial hardship and when veterinary practices act as good samaritans.

Visit www.healthypet.com for more information about enrollment.

Next year's conference is slated for March 17-21 in Denver and will offer more than 385 hours of CE.

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