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Over the hill, you pick up speed

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I RECENTLY had the pleasure of attending the national conference of a large small animal veterinary association and had a very pleasant surprise.

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For one reason or another, I deliberately left the decision to attend to the last minute, which should have meant a surcharge on the registration fee. Reasons for procrastination included the launch of my new book as I wasn't sure if it was going to be published in time. As it was, the first batch came off the press just three days before the conference started, which left little time to organise any publicity and ultimately it turned into a bit of damp squid. Nonetheless, this was a catalyst to get me out and on the road.

So to the pleasant surprise. Despite there not being a special membership rate, it appears that there is a conference rate for those of us who have passed three score years and it was one fifth the price of registration for those of more tender age, as well as half of what I paid for my nurses. As they say in certain quarters, it was a bit of a result and confirmation that not everything about getting old is bad.

Speaking of which, the first thing that struck me, as I looked around at the conference, was how young everyone appeared and that I was, with very few exceptions, the oldest one there. One of the lectures was on what has changed in the profession over the last 25 years, and the lecturer commented that it was likely that there were delegates attending who had not been born when he qualified 25 years ago. My first thought was that there would probably be very few delegates in that category, but a second look at the youthful faces around the room gave me second thoughts on that assessment.

Despite attending a hijacked stand to publicise my book during breaks, I did manage to get to all the lectures on the days I attended. The second thing that then struck me was how little has changed in medical treatment in the last few years, while the tools available to assist diagnosis and to perform surgical procedures have outpaced medical advancement. Once again I pondered if this was age-related. Despite having been round the block a few times, I have kept pretty well at the cutting edge with CPD – this already being my second conference of the year. Perhaps I've seen it all, done it all and got the T-shirt, and there is just little else for me to learn. But just as I was thinking that I had learned nothing new, I realised that from each session I had gleaned a couple of points and perhaps I should not expect a eureka moment each time I attend a conference, but more of a drip feed of fresh thinking, reaffirming that what I already knew was valuable.

One doesn't necessarily have to learn new techniques every day,just be confident that what we are doing is still relevant. Senior vet maybe, but dino-vet never!

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