BEVA or be square
This year BEVA returned to Liverpool to the ACC Echo Arena. Having not visited Liverpool since I looked around the vet school quite a few years ago, I was very pleasantly surprised by an exceptional venue set in the regenerated Albert Dock area. The first impression set the tone for the conference with an excellent lecture stream organised for the first day, and the program for subsequent days didn't look like it was going to disappoint either.
It seems to me that BEVA really does lead the way in attracting world class speakers on all manner of topics, with speakers invited from all over the world as well as a very rich depth and breadth of home grown talent. With lectures to cover all aspects of first opinion and referral practice ranging from the frequently accounted cases of medical colic to more obscure orthopedic surgeries. Even the clinical research programme caught my eye with some very interesting topics and presentations. It's no wonder that BEVA is the second largest event of it's kind in the world and helps to affirm the UK's position as a leading player in the field of equine veterinary medicine.
BEVA should be commended for their practical demonstration area, which saw several interesting and informative demonstrations and small group sessions on dentistry and dental radiography. Both Chris Pearce and Neil Townsend should be commended for the excellent and practical talks, and have inspired me to improve my knowledge of equine dentistry to ensure that we are offering the level of service that we should as veterinary surgeons.
Although if you're used to attending the likes of BSAVA and London Vet Show then you will find the exhibition hall of BEVA much smaller. The key players are all still to be found, although maybe with not quite as many competitions and freebies.
One area that BEVA consistently excels in is not just science and CPD but catering! There are no cold sandwiches and crushed crisps here, this is high level CPD with a lunch menu to match! You could argue that you would expect nothing less when tickets cost from £241 for a day as a BEVA member to £814 for the whole congress if you are not already a BEVA member and miss the early bird discount. It is worth noting though that the student rate is just £28 a day and is a fantastic investment if you are looking for a career in equine practice. As is increasingly becoming the case, you can watch recordings of all of the sessions after the event so you can catch up on anything you missed/were too hungover for.
So should you come? You won't have missed that London Vet Show now has an equine (and farm stream) but having attended both I think it's fair to say that while there is some overlap the target demographic is slightly different. I think where the decision between the two becomes harder is in the early years of your career where CPD budgets may be limited and your knowledge base may be slightly lower. In the ideal world I'm sure everyone would like to attend both. I think if you are committed to furthering a career in equine practice though, then the contacts and knowledge that you can gain from BEVA really do make it second to none. The staff and organisers of BEVA 2015 definitely all deserve a good pat on the back for putting on what really was, a world-leading event.