VHA instructor Shannon B. joined Okanagan members to travel to the Annual VCA Canada conference in Vancouver.

Credit where credit is due. Which means a BIG CAT shout out to Monica Stiller (Hospital Manager, Trilake Animal Hospital and Referral Center/VCA Canda) and Tracy Heyland (Regional Operations Director, BC Mainland VCA Canada who provided the CAT Veterinary Hospital Assistant’s department a chance to attend the annual VCA conference in Vancouver on Feb 23.

The conference is a combination of tradeshow and guest speakers on subjects as wide ranging as ‘The Secret Equation to the Art of Persuasion’ and ‘Common Neurological Emergencies’. This year VHA instructor Shannon B. was able to attend, and kept this journal of her experience for us!

“I am extremely grateful that I was able to attend this year’s conference. I learned a lot of information that will not only benefit myself, but more importantly, the students.

My adventure started at 7:30am at Trilake Animal Hospital – our meeting place for the trip. It was an early morning for me, but I was eager to get to the conference. We boarded a large coach bus that had all the amenities: WIFI, plug-in’s and an on-board bathroom to name a few. I travelled with 17 other VCA employees who were all very accommodating. It took about 5 hours to arrive in Vancouver. Upon arrival, I was invited to join VCA in their team building activity, laser tag! We played two rounds and it was so much fun. After the game they gave out prizes, and I was lucky enough to win a $25 Amazon gift card. We boarded back on the bus and were dropped off at the hotel. The VCA team settled into their rooms, and I went to my friend’s house to spend the night.

The day of the conference arrived. I was so excited that I showed up 90 minutes early waiting to enter. Luckily, coffee was brought out early as well! We all got lanyards with our names on them and a VCA lunch kit as soon as we walked through the door. When we entered into the ballroom there were booths galore. Pharmaceutical, nutrition, and supply representatives were all present. Each booth had a game or interactive element, a prize draw, and freebies to take home. More notably I took home socks and water bottles.

When it came to meals we were provided with breakfast and lunch – yum! The conference was at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel, and they were very accommodating to everyone’s dietary needs. For breakfast I had a lovely hot plate of potatoes, veggies, tofu scramble and fruit. Lunch was a delicious chickpea rice dish.

My biggest takeaway was to really give time to the clients; give them time to be heard, etc.

Shannon B

Being that this was a conference, I participated in 3 different panels.

The first was about pet nutrition. I wanted to join this panel to improve my Small Animal Nutrition course for CAT and get ideas. This panel was hosted by a board-certified nutritionist Dr. Allison Wara. Her presentation was called ‘Setting Healthy Pets Up For Success’, and her PowerPoint focused on the importance of taking a nutritional history on all patients. I plan to incorporate some of her material into my course. Her method for creating a feeding plan was really interesting – the simplicity of assessment, creation, implementation, review and repeat made making a pet’s feeding plan really straightforward.

The second panel – ‘Client Alchemy for Receptionists’ was about handling clients. I joined this panel to improve my Practical Experience course. The guest speaker, Dr. Dave Nichol, was amazing and he really had a lot to offer. He discussed not only dealing with difficult clients, but also how to utilize clients as advocates for your clinic. I think this was my favourite session because the speaker was so engaging. My biggest takeaway was to really give time to the clients; give them time to be heard, etc.

The last panel was on feline anesthetic – ‘Myths and Misconceptions of Feline Anethesai and Analgesia’ with Dr. Larissa Ozeki. I chose this panel for my personal knowledge. The doctor that presented works in a cat-only hospital and has a great love for the feline species. The information that I learned in this panel was very valuable to me. Not every cat is the same, and you really need to tailor your anesthetic plan to the individual cat.

Overall this was a great experience and I would love to participate again next year. I will also be advocating for students to go to this conference now that I know the immense benefits.”

VCA Conference 2020 poster image - Legs with a laptop, with a hand petting a cat.
VCA Conference 2020 Poster Image