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Students Bring Economic Symposium to Illinois
By Julia Foster Gawley

On October 17 and 18, more than 150 students from five veterinary schools shifted their focus from the usual topics of animal diseases and treatments to those of personal finance, interviewing skills, and client retention, with advice from experts around the country.

Hosted at the College by the Illinois Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association, the 7th annual Economic Symposium brought the business of veterinary medicine to the forefront in veterinary education.

“Practicing veterinary medicine requires more than clinical skills,” says Carla Pfeiffer, a third-year student and symposium attendee. “I think all veterinary students should understand the business and economics behind our profession.”

The program began on Friday evening with a cocktail hour and welcoming addresses by Elysia Schaefer, ISCAVMA delegate; Dr. Herbert Whiteley, dean of the College; and AVMA vice-president Dr. Thomas Kendall. A banquet sponsored by Hill’s followed the keynote address by Dr. Peter Weinstein, a University of Illinois alumnus and the current medical director of Veterinary Pet Insurance.

Other sponsors for the event included the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, Avid, Iams, Merial, Purina, Veterinary Healthcare Communications, Veterinary Pet Insurance, and the Illinois Hill’s Student Feeding Committee.

The program continued early Saturday morning with breakfast and lectures on the Brakke management and behavior study, time management, leadership, and negotiation skills. After lunch, students participated in breakout sessions which allowed interactive discussions on topics such as interviewing skills for small and large animal practitioners, financing a practice, practice consolidation, cattle/swine management and economics, and the importance of sales representatives and organized veterinary medicine.

Among the list of speakers were Dr. Ernest Ward, Dr. Jim Wilson, Fritz Wood, CPA, Dr. Karen Felsted, Dr. Greg Ekdale, and Dr. Rosemary LoGiudice. Each offered perspectives on the business and economics of veterinary medicine today. College faculty members Dr. Richard Wallace, veterinary clinical medicine, and Dr. Lawrence Firkins, veterinary pathobiology, contributed to the breakout sessions.

This student-run event, with leadership from third-year students Elysia Schaefer and Romanie Walter, was considered a huge success by all.

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