What I learned at Fetch dvm360

January 3, 2020
Kyle Palmer, CVT
Kyle Palmer, CVT

Long-time dvm360 magazine and Firstline contributor Kyle Palmer, CVT, is hospital manager for VCA Salem in Salem, Oregon, as well as a practice management consultant for a number of other hospitals.

As the saying goes, this conference in sunny San Diego, California, wasn’t your parents’ veterinary conference.

Editor's note: Regular dvm360.com contributor Kyle Palmer, CVT, was invited to write about a few sessions after attending Fetch dvm360 in San Diego last month. In addition to his individual experiences, he wrote some quick thoughts about the conference overall ...

The current state (and future) of our industry is vastly different than that of even just a few years ago, and so it went for my experience at Fetch dvm360 last month. It was my first time back since 2016, and while all of the familiar things one expects from a meeting of this size were there, there were also stark differences that reminded me why the dvm360 family of products has continued to thrive.

No one would debate that the three biggest issues facing our industry today are work-life balance and self-care, the impact of the millennial generation, and strategies for recruiting and retaining key team members in this environment of DVM and veterinary nurse shortages.

Attendees couldn’t take a half-step away from the core scientific sessions without finding one or more of those three subjects represented in one form or another in lectures and other events, which comes at a great time for the many, many practice owners and managers trying to map out the coming year(s).

The keynote address wasn’t on veterinary medicine, but rather how to maintain one's sanity in the face of veterinary professional careers that can mean time away from home, occasional failure and the ever-present possibility of having a significant emotional response to whatever outcomes may occur. Those lessons could apply to anything, and they were delivered by Dr. Sue Ettinger and Dr. Mary Gardner in a way that was humorous, self-depreciating and relatable.

How to deal with the millennial generation of clients who will soon become our largest customer base was the subtext of several practice management sessions. Fetch dvm360 regular Brian Conrad, CVPM, framed a familiar message through the lens of an upcoming crisis that we’ll all have to face: how to evolve your practice to suit younger clients with very different and very specific needs. Even Dr. Dave Nicol’s sessions on content marketing were squarely focused on who wants the digital content most—you guessed it, millennials.

As the saying goes, this wasn’t your parents’ veterinary conference. It was fresh, topical and hopefully useful as there were several bells rung that will be ringing in our ears for the coming years of this profession.

Long-time dvm360 magazine and Firstline contributor Kyle Palmer, CVT, is hospital manager for VCA Salem in Salem, Oregon, as well as the mayor of Silverton, Oregon.