SAVMA Symposium, an international conference for veterinary students, welcomed students and vendors from Tennessee, St. Kitts, Washington, Indiana, Arizona, and more! This year, the University of Illinois was lucky enough to host the SAVMA Symposium for the first time since 1995, which meant I and many of my classmates were able to attend without traveling more than 10 minutes.
The symposium provided many educational, social, and hands-on wet lab opportunities that I could not have gotten elsewhere, and I am so excited to share them!
The symposium lasted three days, and I attended as much as I could and stayed around the conference center to network with corporate veterinary practices. The lectures and wet labs taught me many new things about the profession and medicine which provided me with insight on a variety of topics.
Here are a few highlights:
- “Chiropractic Care for Animals,” led by Catherine Foreman-Hesterberg, DVM,demonstrated the newer discipline in an integrative light. Many animals can benefit from chiropractic care, and it should be used to relieve pain that may not have another solution.
- “The Art and Science of Acupuncture,” by Rose Peters, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology),dove into the mechanics of acupuncture in both its Eastern and Western origins. It was amazing to learn that these techniques are solutions to real problems.
- I had the opportunity to volunteer at “How to Maintain Your Dragon: Husbandry and Diseases of the Bearded Dragon” and “Reptile Analgesia,” both presented by Krista Keller, DVM, DACZM. These are not my typical draw, but I was so glad I was able to go because now I have a greater understanding of reptile medicine, should a question come up.
- I also volunteered in “Marsupial Medicine,” led by Judilee Marrow, DVM, DACZM,which was a great experience to learn about common pocket pets and their care.
- “The Amazing and Atypical Life of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus,” presented by Federico A. Zuckermann, MVZ, PhD, was an in-depth look into PRRS and the research conducted by Dr. Zuckermann. It’s great to see the research side of veterinary medicine and the progress we are making.
- My favorite lecture was “Myth: You Cannot Be a Great Mixed Practitioner,” with Aaron Pospisil, DVM. It was a completely different viewpoint than I had ever heard before and was very encouraging to me as a young veterinary student.
- Lastly, I attended the wet lab “Introduction to Small Ruminant Laparoscopic Artificial Insemination,” led by Suzanna Storms, DVM, where we walked through the process of sheep/goat insemination and practiced with the tools. This was very informative and something I would love to continue in the future!
Outside of the lectures, I also attended some of the social events offered to meet students from other schools and see what SAVMA is doing internationally. The opening and closing ceremonies each included a keynote speaker talking about important issues in our profession. I also attended social events involving Christian Veterinary Mission Fellowship (CVMF) organizations from many different schools to share our experiences and see where CVMF is at as an organization.
Overall, the symposium was a great glimpse into what continuing education will look like and some options for my future career. I hope to attend next year as I dive further into my education. I encourage other students to attend SAVMA Symposium at least one year during their veterinary coursework because the experience is something you truly cannot get anywhere else.
By Annie Davis, Class of 2026