Management, mindfulness and masquerade at this year’s SPVS-VPMA Congress

The Society for Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS) and the Veterinary Practice Management Association (VPMA) held a successful joint congress at the Celtic Manor Resort last weekend. This is the second time the organisations have come together to host a joint business and management conference, and delegate numbers grew by a healthy 20% on the previous year. The congress saw over 400 vets, practice managers and other staff get together for two days of great non-clinical CPD, delivered by a mix of home-grown and overseas speakers.

Congress kicked off with a popular plenary session with John Lewis Main Board Director Tracey Killen. Tracey captivated the audience with her take on what vet practices could do to win customers’ hearts and minds, building on the knowledge she had gained through her John Lewis role and as wife of successful vet Richard Killen of Highcroft Veterinary Group. Tracey later joined US speaker Katherine Eitel for a joint session on the common threads of high-performing teams.

Congress also saw the launch of a new stream dedicated to equine practice management. Chaired by equine manager Rita Dingwall, the day-long stream saw relevant input from industry experts along with sharing of real-life experiences with managers and owners of equine practices. A new stream on Mental Health and Wellbeing also proved very popular with a particular focus on Mindfulness, kicked off with the eating of a raisin!

The social programme was a highlight for many, with a lively Pub Quiz and Networking Dinner on the pre-congress evening being followed by a sumptuous masked ball on Friday night. Some of the 370 ball attendees wore their own mask creations, which together with golden-painted moving statues in the Venetian-themed setting made for a stunning spectacle. A special 5 to 15 years qualified vets’ lunch, hosted by the SPVS President, was also popular and built on the day’s lectures around practice ownership.

As well as unveiling their new look logos and websites, the associations launched their brand new programme of joint CPD for 2014, generously supported by Zoetis. The calendar includes two Focus Days on Digital and Diagnostic Technology in June and October. Both associations are already looking forward to their third joint congress in early 2015.

The full CPD programme can be viewed on the associations’ joint event website,