WSVMA Award winners recognized at the 2019 Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference

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Over 1,200 conference-goers, exhibitors and guests converged on Tacoma for the 2019 Pacific Northwest Veterinary Conference September 27 – September 29, 2019.  Forty-five speakers presented a wide range of scientific topics plus sessions on suicide prevention, practice finance, leadership, telemedicine, and wildlife. Ninety-six vendors and their representatives exhibited in the trade show and sponsored speakers and events.  A special thank you goes to our exhibitors and sponsors for their support of a successful conference.

A round of applause goes to the Program Committee for their time and energy in making the conference program a great success. The committee is fully comprised of volunteers every year. Drs. Eddie Haigh and Jean Maixner who served as co-chairs. Drs. Corrie Hines and Diane Pinkers planned the small animal medicine program. Drs. Crystal McRae and Kelly Farnsworth planned the equine medicine program. The large animal medicine program was arranged by Drs. Janet Helms, Amber Itle, Craig McConnel, and Kelly Reed. Dr. Eric Sutten served as the wet lab coordinator. Hayden Milligan, CHRM and Jessica Osborn, CVPM coordinated the practice management sessions and Ryan Frazier, LVT planned the technician program. Dr. Sabari Haviland served as the social events coordinator and Kathy Hurley from Jorgensen Labs and Paul McMakin from Phoenix Central Lab served as industry advisors.

Awards from the Washington State Veterinary Medical Association (WSVMA) were presented Friday evening at the annual event held this year at Hotel Murano, the luxury hotel in Tacoma with museum-esque art glass. Guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner and following the awards, were treated to laughs by comedian Frank King.

WSVMA president Dr. Jean Gulbransen presided over the awards presentations. Here are the 2019 WSVMA award recipients:

Veterinarian of the Year – Dr. Christine Wilford

Dr. Christine Wilford, veterinarian at Island Cats Veterinary Hospital in Mercer Island, Wash., received the 2019 Veterinarian of the Year Award. The award is presented in recognition of an outstanding career in veterinary medicine and contributions to their practice, their stakeholders, and other service directly benefitting their community. Dr. Wilford founded the non-profit Feral Cat Spay/Neuter Program, now based in Lynnwood, WA. Her leadership and advocacy to address the long-standing issue of unfettered free-roaming cat reproduction and resulting kitten mortality through a community spay-neuter clinic effort has become a national model. Dr. Wilford also served the Puget Sound Veterinary Medical Association (PSVMA) for over 25 years, primarily serving as the chair of their Continuing Education Committee, but also through two terms as president. Her championing PSVMA’s bi-monthly high-quality educational program enhanced the knowledge and expertise of veterinarians through-out western Washington. As conveyed by those who nominated her, Dr. Wilford is a consummate, caring, and dedicated professional who has provided unique benefits to the veterinary profession.

Picture L to R Drs. Gene Mueller, Christine Wilford, Gary Marshall, Jean Gulbransen


Distinguished Achievement Award – Dr. Bryan K. Slinker

Dr. Bryan K. Slinker, interim Provost of Washington State University (WSU) and former Dean of WSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, received the 2019 Distinguished Achievement award. The award was presented to recognize Dr. Slinker’s unwavering dedication and outstanding contributions to the veterinary profession and Washington veterinarians through multiple accomplishments, including the work of the Paul G. Allen School to eliminate rabies, growing the College through new departments and capital projects, enhancing training for veterinary students by developing partnerships with humane societies, and establishing a One Health partnership with Univ. of Washington to provide side-by-side healthcare for people and pets who are experiencing homelessness.

From L to R Drs. Bryan Slinker and Jean Gulbransen


WSU Faculty of the Year Award – The Clinical Simulation Center Team

The Clinical Simulation Center Team at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine was awarded the 2019 Faculty Member of the Year Award. The Center is led by Dr. Julie Cary and team members Dr. Robert Keegan and Lethea Russell, LVT.  The Clinical Simulation Center includes experiential, simulation training in clinical communication, basic surgical skills, anesthesia and critical care activities, and ultrasound and endoscopy diagnostic skills. This past April, the Center received accreditation from the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, making it the nation’s first-ever accredited program developed for veterinary care. Simulation provides a key component to effective education in preparing competent veterinary graduates by enhancing their experience, building confidence, and offering the ability to practice without any negative consequences to the patient or owner.

From L to R Drs. Sue Wedam, Julie Cary, Robert Keegan, Jean Gulbransen


Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award – Jess Hanson, LVT

Jess Hanson, licensed veterinary technician at Olympia Veterinary Specialists – The Cancer Center, received the 2019 Distinguished Veterinary Staff Award. Mr. Hanson is recognized for his outstanding animal handling skills, exceptional technical skills, compassionate and educational interactions with animal families, and his unparalleled high level of staff leadership. He’s made tremendous impact on thousands of patients, clients, and the colleagues he works with every day.

From L to R Dr. Lisa Parshley, Jess Hanson, LVT, Dr. Jean Gulbransen


Humane Animal Welfare Award – The Staff at Feral Cats Spay/Neuter Project

Veterinarians, technicians and staff from the organization Feral Cats Spay/Neuter Project (FCS/NP), Lynnwood, Wash., were presented the 2019 WSVMA Humane Animal Welfare Award in recognition of their exemplary service to the organization and the community. Recipients include Dr. Jennifer Buchanan, Ms. Jenna Harburg, Ms. Rita LaFuze, Ms. Sagan Lain, Ms. Eudora Roach-Hawkes, Tara Tabayoyon, and Dr. Merriss Waters. FCS/NP is the first free-standing clinic that is dedicated to providing free spay/neuter surgery for free-roaming cats in a safe, high quality, humane environment.

From L to R Dr. Sandy Willis, Dr. Jen Buchanan, Eudora Roach-Hawkes, Executive Director Amy Ferguson, Dr. Jean Gulbransen


Allied Industry Award – Jay Jones, Hill’s Pet Nutrition

Jay Jones, long-tenured transportation professional at Hill’s Pet Nutrition in Kent, Wash., received the 2019 Allied Industry Partner Award in recognition of his quiet, yet dedicated and faithful service to Washington veterinarians and their patients.

From L to R – Dr. Gary Marshall, Jay Jones, Dr. Jean Gulbransen

Nominations for 2020 awards are being accepted now. Access the form on the WSVMA website.


Posted October 18, 2019