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Little Shares Thoughts on 2017, 2018 Veterinary Innovation Summits

Posted September 21, 2017

Dr. Adam Little, director of veterinary innovation and entrepreneurship, spoke at the Sept. 8 College Hour about the successes and areas to expand upon from the inaugural Veterinary Innovation Summit (VIS) hosted by the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences in April, in preparation for the second annual VIS next year.


Dr. Adam Little discusses the VIS at the Sept. 8 College Hour.

“One of the things that I think was really powerful that we tapped into a little bit during this (inaugural) conference is that veterinarians are making a really meaningful impact, but we just scratched the surface, so next year will be an opportunity to expand that out,” Little said.

In offering some post-2017 conference insights, Little said he really appreciated the support the conference received throughout the entire college.

“While it definitely was a unique opportunity, it came from a place the dean and her team had been discussing for quite some time now at Texas A&M,” he said.

One goal of the inaugural conference was to empower attendees to play a role in the degree of change that affects how technology impacts business, practice, and educational models, and especially in changing the way the attendees, who represented diverse backgrounds beyond veterinary sciences, think about veterinary medicine.

“We really wanted to challenge people to think a lot bolder and bigger about the future of the profession,” Little said. “We wanted to create a conference where it was OK to say crazy things, or might push you outside of your comfort zone.”

To accomplish that, participation from conference attendees was crucial, and Little felt they were successful in creating a space where everyone felt they could participate.

“We wanted to give everybody a voice and, most importantly, we wanted to create a much more positive conversation about the future of veterinary medicine,” Little said. “I think sometimes when we talk about some of the trends the profession is seeing, it can get really scary and anxiety-inducing, whether it’s debt or burnout, and we tried to reframe some of those challenges as opportunities we could all be contributing to.”

Little said he is really proud of the feedback he received in that capacity, as well as the new opportunities that arose from some of the 450 attendees, including new possibilities for businessmen and -women, the acquisition of some of the smaller companies by larger companies, attendees who were inspired to apply to veterinary schools, and new companies that were created after networking at the VIS.

“I think we really successfully drove a better understanding of what’s coming and what’s already out there in the veterinary space,” he said. “I had a lot of people come up to me afterward and tell me they had been in the profession for 20 or 30 years and had never even heard of some of these people or companies but that they were clearly having a really significant impact.”

Little also expressed appreciation for the North American Veterinary Council for its logistical and programming support, which “really elevated the program.”

For the second annual VIS, scheduled for April 6-8, 2018, conference organizers are considering the theme of “Veterinarians Changing the World Through Animal Health.”

Among the additions planned is more targeted programming through a focused, half-day boot camp for faculty, which will be held on Friday before the conference. Little used the College Hour to collect ideas from faculty on topics that might engage them more; ideas included pitching ideas and how to integrate conference concepts for faculty to use in the classroom.

The second VIS will focus more on the societal impact veterinarians play, while also including a diverse range of presentations. Some of those topics included the relationship between performance athletes and equine medicine; translational medicine; the change in the human-animal bond; reaching more marginalized areas of society; emergency preparedness; and women’s leadership.

“Interesting things” are in store for exhibits during the 2018 conference and more networking opportunities are being planned, as well as ways to make the event more accessible to students and to engage more faculty members.

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