Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought
The 2nd SMACC (social media and critical care conference) has just finished. A packed 4 days (including pre-conference) with over 1000 delegates developed by a few brilliant individuals who have envisioned a different way of learning and collaborating.
This is no ordinary conference, with fantastic topics discussed and innovative events. See Salim Rezaie’s great blog for the detail. There are few conferences where professionally executed simulation debriefings occur in front of an entire auditorium, speakers’ cry in a context that feels appropriate and delegates give standing ovations in some of the break out sessions.
I sit writing this approaching Doha on the second stage of my journey home. I am a SMACC virgin, utterly humbled by the invitation to speak in Brisbane. I have met and listened to some extraordinary people but my over-riding emotion at the moment is one of sadness. I am truly sad it has finished. Don’t get me wrong, my youngest developed chicken pox during my journey away, I do want to go home. I am sad though that I know I will be attending other conferences (unfortunately SMACC Chicago is over a year away!) where I will sit and listen, I may learn some additional clinical information, I may meet a future research collaborator, if I am really lucky something may inspire me to change practice.
What is unlikely to happen is that there will be a tangible excitement when the first speaker takes to the stage, that over coffee break all the delegates will be smiling, that I will witness carefully constructed slide sets that support (not deliver) the stories the speakers are telling.
The attention to detail in the narratives delivered at SMACC was brilliant. It’s likely those reading this who weren’t at SMACC will probably be a little sceptical of this hyperbole. Please, please, watch the video casts when they are released. Watch how Cliff Reid and Iain Beardsell bring their emotional talks together full circle. Natalie May delivers to a packed crowd on “paediatric tips you won’t find in a book” using slides with no text and Tamara Hills received a standing ovation for her PK presentation. Listen to Victoria Brazil deliver a 20 minute presentation in exactly 20 minutes with no timing aids (ok – I admit this is only probably considered really cool by geeks like me).
The hierarchical nature of academic events is not present at SMACC. It was brilliant to see a mix of professionals, grades, and specialities mucking in. Medical students and junior doctors delivering lectures and being part of the panel discussions. And so I could go on….
If there was one thing that encapsulated SMACC it was the patient centered approach to challenging dogma. I am struck that although the patient should be at the heart of everything we do – I often don’t see that at conferences. I hear people ‘talk’ about it but during lectures on new treatments or methods it’s about stats and facts. It’s about why the speaker thinks something is wrong. What SMACC did was deliver lectures where the speakers understood the challenges of normal practice. That patients are humans, that the things we do in critical and emergency care have an impact on them. That if we do what we always did, we will get where we are going – and is some cases that is simply not acceptable. Challenging Dogmalyis, championed by Prof. Simon Carley is uncomfortable. It hurts sometimes to be challenged.
But until SMACC Chicago this type of hurt is so much better than the pain of any other conference you will go to….
Post Blog note:
Have already started getting messages saying but what about…..? Will start adding 🙂
— Dr Nick Jenkins (@DrNickJenkins) March 22, 2014