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As veterinary nurses, we are used to early starts, even on the weekends! 5am wake ups seem a little better when you know you have an exciting day ahead of you. Alison, Maxine and I all gathered in the car for the road trip to Birmingham ICC. It had been a few years since we attended BSVAV Congress, so we were looking forward to what the day brought.

Along the way we checked the seminar schedule and planned what lectures we would attend, ensuring we left ourselves time to take a look around the exhibition hall, this is where we get to meet with representatives from various drug and food companies, equipment suppliers and charities… and of course get our hands on lots of freebies!

As veterinary nurses, we all have different areas of interest, things about the job we love the most. I am particularly keen to advance my medical nursing skills, and so my first lecture was about irritable bowel disease, the speaker had been a qualified veterinary nurse since 2008 and she now works in a state of the art pet hospital. She was able to discuss cases, and impart wisdom on us. As you looked around the room, there were a lot of interested faces, some student nurses at the beginning of their careers, newly registered nurses like myself and veteran nurses with a lot of experience under their belt. We all have new things to learn, the purpose of these seminars is to provide us with continual professional progress.

Straight after my first seminar was interesting lectures on managing diabetes, unfortunately a lot of our pets suffer from diabetes and so hearing about ways to manage the condition and help clients to maintain their pets new condition was very interesting and something we can definitely utilise in practice.

Next was a much needed coffee break and time to absorb what we had learnt. We also had the chance to chat to other professionals, as BSAVA attracts hundreds of veterinarians, nurses, veterinary receptionists and practice managers from all over the country, and from mingling with the crowd; we heard lots of different accents, and even languages! Which just shows you how popular the weekend is.

As the day progressed, I attended lectures on diabetic ketoacidosis, a complication of uncontrolled diabetes, Hyperthyroidism, Addisons and Cushings disease, again, these are all conditions we see and treat in practice frequently. I was able to take away many interesting points that will help me to nurse these patients when they are hospitalised, and support their owners with their treatment. Other streams include emergency and critical care, management, anaesthesia and exotics – so something for everyone.

Lunch time saw lots of tired brains and hungry tummies gather together in the exhibition hall, once a tasty meal had been consumed by all, it was time to head around the stalls. There are lots of prizes to be won, including holidays and smart watches, so of course, the three of us competitively battled it out! There was an interactive game of operation, the fastest time would win a pair of scrubs, and Maxine just missed out by 2 seconds!

We received samples of some new and interesting products that we hope to introduce to the practice soon.

Loaded with freebies and mentally tired, we waddled back to the car for the drive home, all three of us reflected on the day and discussed what we had learnt, Congress is always a long day but worth every second for the knowledge we gain. Without continual professional development, we as the practice could not provide our patients and their owners with the best care possible.