One day in 1959, I saw an ad about a CE conference for physicians being held at a ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. "Hey," I thought. "Why can't we do that?"
Fifty years ago, before Veterinary Economics existed, I read Medical Economics. One day in 1959, I saw an ad about a CE conference for physicians being held at a ski resort in Sun Valley, Idaho. "Hey," I thought. "Why can't we do that?"
The SVMA crew at our 49th annual winter meeting in Crested Butte, Colo., in January 2009.
Thus, I created the Sierra Veterinary Medical Association (SVMA), the world's first veterinary CE conference to be held every winter at a ski resort. It was one of the best things I have ever done. For half a century, we have held meetings at ski resorts all over western North America and in the Austrian, Swiss, Italian, and French Alps. The CE has covered all species and disciplines and has been superb.
I have attended dozens of other veterinary conferences at ski resorts. Some were state and regional VMA meetings. Others were medical specialty meetings. There are even species specialty ski meetings now. In fact, so many veterinary CE conferences are now held at ski resorts that you can literally attend one all winter long.
However, the SVMA is unique. Lifelong friendships have developed within it, and spinoff trips and conferences have come from it. For example, a spinoff "Practice Tips" meeting is now held every spring at Lake Tahoe, Calif. It is patronized mostly by SVMA members who now make this their annual spring ski trip. And summer meetings of the SVMA have been held at golf resorts, on white-water raft expeditions, on alpine horse packing trips, and at beach resorts all over the country.
Only four veterinarians attended the first SVMA meeting at Mammoth Mountain, Calif., in 1960. In 1961, eight veterinarians attended. In 1962, the attendance doubled again. In the ensuing years, the organization grew and grew, and certain unique traditions became established that persist to this day. Songs, jokes, and stories are repeated annually. Ski races and costume parties are part of every year's celebration. And the CE continues to be first-class. What began as a California group in 1960 is now an international organization with members from several countries.
In 2010, the SVMA is holding a winter meeting of great importance to me because it will be our 50th annual. Would you like to join the SVMA? Would you like to join us at our 50th annual meeting in Andorra, which is in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain? Our weeklong stay at a ski resort in Andorra will be preceded by a tour of Spain. The CE speakers will include members of the SVMA, plus European guest speakers. Our two-week tour will end in France, from where we will fly home.
Robert M. Miller, DVM, is an author and a cartoonist, speaker, and Veterinary Medicine Practitioner Advisory Board member from Thousand Oaks, Calif. His thoughts in "Mind Over Miller" are drawn from 32 years as a mixed-animal practitioner. Visit his Web site at www.robertmmiller.com.