The Rumpus core team, along with approximately 28,000 other veterinary professionals, descended on the Orange County Convention Center in sunny Orlando, Florida, for VMX 2023 from January 13 to 17. 2023 marks the conference’s 40th anniversary, and throwback 1980s-era pricing led to record attendance numbers. The crowds, lines, and packed lectures—although slightly frustrating at times—made me feel like I was part of something big. Like VMX was the place to be. Indeed, veterinary medicine’s top names—not to mention Kevin Bacon and Cole Hauser—were there to educate and entertain.

Our remote team reconnects yearly, which was the highlight of the trip for me! Seeing our team—going to dinner, meeting for press conferences, walking the exhibit hall, and attending lectures together—made the large meeting feel small and personal. Seeing familiar clients, and meeting others for the first time, also made me feel right at home. 

VMX is obviously a highlight of my year, but I asked the other Rumpus team members to share their favorite takeaways.

Sarah Rumple, CEO

Oh, VMX … you never disappoint! From scheduled, productive meetings with current and prospective clients, to unexpected run-ins with some of my favorite industry friends and colleagues, the networking at VMX 2023 was incredible. I also loved gathering with the Rumpus Writing team. Since the six of us are spread all over the country, these opportunities to see each other in person are priceless. Some favorite memories this year: 

  • Winning a Gold Judge’s Choice Vetty marketing award with Veteos and VSS for “Dirty Laundry” … and enjoying some high-end tequila shots afterward!
  • Walking the huge exhibit hall and seeing some beautiful booths
  • Learning about cool breakthroughs and new products, and seeing in person some of the clients we’ve worked with rather than via Zoom 

Paulette Senior, editor

I spent more time than usual in the exhibit hall and was struck by how elaborate (and huge) most of the booths were. I especially enjoyed talking to people in the booths who were promoting dental products, grooming products, pet toys, separation anxiety products, etc., that we write about frequently.

The conference seldom disappoints, and while I enjoyed everything overall, it was somewhat disappointing that they (VMX and the Hyatt) were not prepared for the large number of attendees, which resulted in long lines, long waits, and lots of frustrated people. I hate to see people upset.

I have several favorite things: 1) Of course, seeing the Rumpus team again, 2) This was my 40th conference, so it is always a reunion with friends made over the years, 3) Finding the Kong booththey were definitely the most generous with giveaways that Lizzie (our dog) loves, and 4) Seeing Rumpus receive the Vetty Award that was handed out before the Lady A concert. And, for the first time in years we attended the concert. (My husband hates loud musicI love itso this year I remembered his ear plugs!)

Jenny Alonge, DVM, writer

VMX was especially impressive this year, hosting around 25,000 people, and the crowds brought extra energy. Many of the lectures were informative and interesting. I found the talk about the new emerging tick species, the Asian Longhorn tick, especially intriguing, as well as concerning. I was also excited to learn about the Nu.Q Canine Cancer Screening test that helps screen for cancer, which will be so beneficial to veterinarians and concerned pet owners. My favorite part of VMX was getting to see my team members in person and getting to know them on a more personal level. Overall, a great experience!

Jaime Bast, RVT, writer

VMX is an exciting, but exhausting experience. Although I’d expected to feel less overwhelmed attending my second conference, the record-setting crowds were a new and unanticipated challenge. My favorite VMX 2023 takeaways include learning new strategies for client communication, pet weight loss and mobility, arthritis management, and compassionate animal handling, areas that not only interest me personally as a certified dog trainer and veterinary rehabilitation practitioner, but also because they are topics that our Rumpus clients request frequently. 

In addition to soaking up a wealth of veterinary information, I enjoyed attending sessions by my favorite speakers and veterinary role models. And, of course, catching up with my fellow Rumpus writers!

Elizabeth Kowalski, CVT, writer

As a first time VMX attendee, I was completely overwhelmed by the crowds and didn’t spend as much time in the exhibit hall as I would’ve liked. I enjoyed the huge variety of CE and found myself in some really interesting talks, including Clive Wynne’s fascinating dog behavior lectures. I think his research has the potential to solve a lot of problems in the dog, pet, and shelter worlds. He kept my attention for a full three hours, and I learned afterward that he spoke in a Netflix documentary about dogs, which explains why he sounded familiar. The weather was not ideal, but still a bit warmer than home, and I got to enjoy a few minutes of sunshine during our last two days. My favorite thing was meeting the Rumpus crew in person and feeling immediately at ease, and getting to see old friends and classmates. I’m looking forward to attending in the future!

Overall, VMX 2023 was inspiring, energizing, and a little exhausting. Since I work from home, it’s great to connect with friends and coworkers, but it’s also good to be back at my laptop, under my cozy blanket. Until next year, VMX!