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Never been to SAVMA symposium!?

If you've never been to SAVMA Symposium before you were probably wondering why about 3 weeks ago all your friends were posting cool pictures, sending snapchats riding a mechanical bull, and starting to say howdy y'all! This year, the annual SAVMA Symposium, was hosted by Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and let's just say Texas knows how to put on an incredible show.

Every March, Symposium brings together veterinary students from all over the world to participate in fascinating lectures, interactive wet labs, fun social events, and exciting day trips. It's a wonderful event that hundreds of students attend every year and for the next 3 days here on The Vet Gazette you'll be able to hear from a few of them about their symposium experiences.

Today we highlight those recipients of the 2017 SAVMA Symposium Travel Grant Sponsored by the SAVMA Education and Professional Development Committee. SAVMA offers scholarships every year to veterinary students travelling to Symposium in the hope of alleviating some of the financial strain of attending the event. Check out this link for more information about this scholarship and many more offered through SAVMA.   


Atalie Delgado

St. George's University SVM

My experience at SAVMA symposium this year proved to exceed my expectations. I participated in an immobilization darting wet lab conducted by Dr. Blue, where she was able to allow myself and other veterinary students to assist in every aspect of this procedure. This included hoof trimming, conducting a physical exam, monitoring vital signs, and administering vaccines. I thoroughly enjoyed sharing ideas with like-minded individuals regarding diversity, wellness, and on the gender wage gap. My time at symposium further solidified my decision to pursue a degree in veterinary medicine and I am immensely grateful that I was given this opportunity to foster ideas with other passionate students to further improve the veterinary community.


Cassandra Boyle

Iowa State University CVM

SAVMA Symposium was defiantly bigger in Texas! Texas A&M put on a wonderful symposium for a record number of student attendees this spring in their beautiful new facilities. I was able to attend lectures, get a behind the scene tour at the Houston Rodeo, learn about new and useful products with vendors, and network with other veterinary students. The Houston Rodeo tour was the highlight of my trip- talking with the rodeo veterinarians, learning about the drug testing program of the show animals and gaining a better understanding of the management of the rough stock. I am grateful for my experience at Symposium, thanks to the Travel Grant helping me pay my way.


Christie Hammons

The Ohio State University CVM

At Texas’s SAVMA Symposium 2017, topics ranged from traditional clinical issues in veterinary medicine to topics in the expansion of our field to solving interdisciplinary problems. As a student that aims to go into mixed practice before a long career in public health, I took advantage of all the lecture tracks. I learned tips for speedy and effective field necropsies and tips for surviving my first year in practice. I attended the darting lab, where I practiced important skills for safe sedation and handling of fractious animals. One lecturer discussed the trends in dairy medicine, and how the critical thinking from our veterinary training is especially valuable with the increasing shift toward herd health, record analyses, and producer education. Understanding the importance of effective communication, I attended the “How to Be More than a Doctor” workshop, where we discussed techniques to become better educators during client appointments and with the public. This year’s SAVMA Symposium was an excellent, well-rounding experience that has given me tools to practice both in the public and private sectors, solving problems for pet and livestock health, as well as for One Health.


Charles Robinson III

Tuskegee University SVM

I first want to extend my sincerest appreciation for SAVMA and Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, for allowing me the opportunity to experience my very first SAVMA symposium. My experience was phenomenal! The lectures were very informative and inspiring! I was able to meet and network with other amazing veterinary students from various Colleges of Veterinary Medicine. Most importantly, the service and hospitality that the veterinary students from Texas A&M provided was astounding! I sincerely appreciated how the vet students from Texas A&M were professional, friendly, selfless and organized. I was unable to participate in any wet labs. However, because of my amazing experience I have made it a priority to participate in a wet lab at next year’s SAVMA symposium. Thanks to this symposium, I highly encourage veterinary students to take full advantage of the opportunity to attend the SAVMA symposium, next year at University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine! I guarantee you won’t be disappointed!


Hannah Leigh Varnell

North Carolina State University CVM

SAVMA Symposium at Texas A&M was an amazing experience. As a first year that is not that involved with SCAVMA, I still felt it completely worthwhile for the educational and networking opportunities. I made connections with veterinary students from all over the world, some which were also present at NC State’s IVSA Symposium. A friend of mine from this event was put in contact with the leader of the bile bear rehabilitation project in China, and is now heading there for a summer experience. The opportunities were endless. I did three wetlabs, 1) raptor necropsy, 2) wildlife darting, and 3) wine tasting. I also attended a lecture on being a veterinarian for the Iditarod, among many others on careers in zoological medicine. Next years Symposium is at UPenn so I hope many more NC State CVM students can attend. We can compete as a school in Veterinary Pub Trivia.


Kelsey Sundaram

Midwestern University CVM

SAVMA symposium was without a doubt the experience of a lifetime. The amount I learned in such a short period of time was well worth the trip. It truly helped me to grow as a veterinary student in my field. Participating in the bovine palpation competition was especially interesting and exciting to me, the wealth of knowledge given by TAMU CVM’s instructors inspired me to keep learning about large animal theriogenology . The most exciting part was engaging with other veterinary students following the same dream. I am very grateful and appreciative of the opportunity given to attend the symposium. I would highly recommend this to future students wanting to expand their clinical knowledge and look forward to attending next year.


Kimberly Dailey

Washington State University CVM

My experience at the 2017 SAVMA Symposium was both entirely expected and unexpected. I knew in the weeks of anticipation leading up to Spring Break that I would learn a ton from the amazing variety of lectures and wetlabs offered. I carefully examined each day’s schedule like the compulsive planner I am, and vainly wished for a Time-Turner so I could attend all of the events that peaked my interest (yes, Hermione Granger is my spirit animal). However, it was the unexpected experiences that were the most memorable to me. Wellness and mental health in the profession has always been something that I have cared about, but I was not prepared for the powerful sense of community my colleagues – both current and future veterinarians – that I would develop at the Diversity and Wellness events, particularly the Expert Roundtable Breakfast. For me, the thing that I will always remember about SAVMA Symposium 2017 is how a room full of people from incredibly varied backgrounds and experiences came together for a morning of discussion about the critical challenges facing our profession (diversity, mental health, gender bias, and work-life balance being some of the most notable), and how to fix them. Speaking with other students and veterinarians about ways that we can change for the better made me hopeful for the future of our profession. So thank you, SAVMA Symposium, for infusing me with some optimism in the face of the very significant challenges we face and the sorrow that we bear for the ones that we have lost – together, with the support of our friends and colleagues, I believe we can make a difference.


Kristen Malinak

North Carolina State University CVM

I have had the good fortune of attending SAVMA Symposium, not once, not twice, but three times in my three years of veterinary school! Each year I have been impressed with the lectures, wet-labs, and networking events put on by each school. This year at Texas A&M was no different. The new facilities, with wide open work spaces and a large courtyard, were amazing, and a great location for the lectures and labs put on by the students and faculty. I attended the Wellness Breakfast on Thursday, where I learned new ways to increase efficiency (and therefore sleep) and how to work with diverse clients in practice. Friday was my birthday and I celebrated by attending meetings as my school’s SCAVMA President where I spoke with other representatives about improving SCAVMA and SAVMA at their schools. After attending a wet-lab on small animal emergency procedures Saturday afternoon, I enjoyed the closing gala at Kyle Field with friends from NCSU and other schools. I will miss attending SAVMA Symposium and hope that I can keep in touch with the friends, mentors, and connections I’ve made there over the years!


Laura Kenzie

Ross University SVM

Twelve hour layovers, flight changes, AirBnBs that were booked but never confirmed with the house owner, sprained ankles...just some of the mishaps that took place during my SAVMA Symposium 2017 experience yet none of them took away from the unforgettable 4 days I had in College Station. These bumps along the road only prove to make for lasting memories and funny stories I was able to share with the incredible group of friends with whom I was lucky enough to travel. This idea of putting a positive spin on unexpected events and using them to grow as a person is an invaluable tool for any veterinary student as our journey is anything but straightforward. This was my first SAVMA Symposium and while many of the lectures and wetlabs looked interesting, I wanted to use this opportunity to go outside my comfort zone. I love how much emphasis is being put on health and wellness of veterinarians right now but have not been directly involved with it much. To help rectify this, I decided to take the opportunity to attend the Wellness Roundtable Breakfast and was impressed and inspired by the colleagues that I met and the conversations that were had - ranging from wellness to diversity to equality. It was lovely to learn about what other vet schools do for health and wellness on campus and what struggles they face in regards to diversity and women’s issues while also rewarding to be able to share some of what we do and some of the unique challenges we face at RUSVM. I also spent time in the exhibit halls learning about various products and services and networking with company reps that I will no doubt meet again in the future. Not only was I able to learn about a few new products but I was able to make connections with a few reps for products that I would love to bring down to use at RUSVM. Both of these experiences allowed me to put on my professional hat and feel like an equal, a colleague, as well as a student. This was the first time I have really experienced this type of setting outside of RUSVM since becoming a veterinary student and Texas A&M was the perfect place for it as the friendliness that Texas is known for seemed to infect everyone, whether you were from The Lonestar State or not. So while the lectures were informative and the wetlabs were educational, it is warm people of A&M and welcoming atmosphere of Texas that allowed me to learn and grow and feel at home to be able to appreciate the twist and turns, the unexpected connections, the unpredictable moments that will stay with me from my first SAVMA Symposium.


Lauren Kallaway

Ross University SVM

SAVMA Symposium at Texas A&M was a refreshing break from the daily routine of veterinary school on St. Kitts. After arriving Thursday, I had the opportunity to walk through the exhibit hall and attend opening ceremonies. The highlight of Friday was attending Ultrasound All Around, an equine ultrasonography wet lab focusing on the distal limb and abdomen. We practiced proper ultrasound technique on live horses and focused on key clinical applications for the use of ultrasound in equine practice. This complimented my current diagnostic imaging course and fueled my curiosity about pursuing board certification in Diagnostic Imaging after veterinary school. On Saturday I had the opportunity to take a behind-the- scenes tour of the Houston Rodeo lead by two of the rodeo veterinarians. They shared their daily responsibilities, explained the logistics behind operating the largest rodeo in the United States, and shared the reason behind their passion and commitment to the event year after year. These unique experiences at SAVMA Symposium will contribute to which veterinary school I choose to attend during clinical year with Ross University and influence what I choose to do with my veterinary degree after graduation.


Nicole Barichello

Ross University SVM

My experience at SAVMA Symposium at Texas A&M was nothing short of amazing. Not only did I learn a lot about the state of Texas and the university as a whole, but it made me incredibly excited about where the field of veterinary medicine can go in the future. My favorite wet lab was the Small Animal Dentistry lab. I have very minimal experience with dentistry (aside from simply watching procedures), so this was something in which I definitely wanted to participate. There were numerous board certified veterinary dentists there to offer advice and guidance, and they even allowed us to get practice with diagnostic imaging and interpretation of radiographs of the mouth. It was a very organized lab, and I learned so much in the few hours that I was there. From inspirational speakers, to Texas-inspired social events, to countless educational wet labs, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and encourage everyone to attend a Symposium at least once during their veterinary school careers.


Shalem Zee Mahmood

St. Matthew’s University SVM

Attending my first SAVMA Symposium was a truly fun and enlightening experience that I will never forget. Diversity and Wellness Day right away set me at ease as I listened to and shared ideas with colleagues from around the world. As a SCAVMA president, brainstorming with various committees that are helping to pave the way for the next generation of veterinarians really gave me a sense of belonging and positivity for the future. Participating in the Business, Finance, & Innovation Wetlab also was especially enjoyable, as I plan to own a practice and was unsure how the instructors could make these topics hands-on. Among several exercises relating to business management, the impromptu contract negotiation was an invaluable learning experience. Besides the lectures and labs, I made lasting friendships with students just like me, whom I look forward to seeing at future conferences throughout my career. Texas A&M did a phenomenal job, and I encourage all students to attend future SAVMA Symposiums if they can because it really is worth the trip.


Tracie Holt

Ross University SVM

SAVMA Symposium was everything I hoped it would be and more. I went expecting to hear some interesting lectures, get more hands-on experience through wet labs, and meet people from other veterinary schools. This all happened, but I also gained a new sense of purpose in the process. The opening ceremony included speeches from many faculty members at Texas A&M. They shared some of the life lessons they have picked up throughout their veterinary careers. It was amazing to me how many of them said if they could choose their careers all over again they would do veterinary medicine without a doubt. Seeing their passion was truly inspirational. All students know how hard it can be to see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel when sometimes it feels like we are living from one exam to the next, but these speakers truly gave me hope. I was also reminded of why I love this field through the wet labs I participated in. The first one I did was about small animal dentistry. I had never before had any particular interest in dentistry, but this opened my eyes to a completely new area of veterinary medicine. Extracting teeth is fun! The second lab I participated in was about emergency procedures. We got to learn how to place urinary catheters, esophagostomy tubes, chest tubes, central lines, and interosseous catheters. As someone who has never worked in an area of veterinary medicine besides general practice, it was amazing to see how many different procedures clinicians can perform to save the lives of critical patients. The lectures were very diverse, ranging from topics such as cystitis in cats to working as a veterinarian on the Iditarod sled race. It was fascinating to hear about how the speakers had such differing experiences within the same profession, and it showed me how many opportunities there are for those of us who are fortunate enough to graduate from vet school. Meeting other students was also an excellent experience because it became clear to me that no matter what school we go to, we all go through the same things, and we all feel a pull to be in this line of work. For anyone who is on the fence about going to Symposium, I highly recommend it. You cannot put a price on something that reminds you of why you are sacrificing so much to pursue your dream.


Victoria Monroe

 St. George’s University SVM

First, I would like to say that if you are considering going to a SAVMA Symposium DO IT! They are a great time and you have a chance to learn so much that you will not in class. You also get a great chance to interact with vet students from all over. After all we are all going into the same profession so networking starts now! Personally I focused primarily on attending wetlabs, though I did make it to one lecture on lameness in the bovine athlete. In total I participated in four different wetlabs and whoever named these wetlabs deserves an award because they are hilarious! The names were “Knot your Average Casting Lab” (knot tying and learning how to cast cattle), “That’s a Bunch of Bull” (bull breeding soundness exam), “Can I get an Icepack for that?” (enucleation and dehorning), and Twinkle Toes (bovine claw removal). Overall, there is really nothing like SAVMA Symposium and each school has a chance to put their own unique stamp on it, making each year a new experience. So look for those grants, save those pennies, and see you at SAVMA Symposium 2018!


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