Blog Post By Nat Thurtle
What’s so good about DevelopingEM?
I have been lucky enough to attend a variety of fantastic Emergency Medicine conferences over the time I have been an EM trainee. Conferences with cutting edge research, conferences utilising and explaining the exciting frontier of social media and open access, conferences where the thought leaders of emergency medicine and critical care deliver digestible pearls, conferences with opulent social programmes, conferences where the tea breaks have amazing new airway toys to play with while you drink your latte.
So what’s so good about this one?
It’s certainly not the shiniest. No airway toys, no free pens, not even a latte (don’t worry, there is always coffee!). No cabaret-esque introduction, dancing girls or ‘90’s rave approach to lighting. There’s never to my knowledge been an ICU consultant dressed up as a uterus at DEM either, a la the wonderful SMACC 2013…!
DEM is not as punchy as other conferences. Imagine every presentation being interpreted into another language in real time! This means a slow and measured approach to speaking, not using slang etc, busier slides with 2 languages on them, making information accessible to the many delegates who don’t speak English.
For me, its 3 things that make DEM great – the ethics, the true innovation and the heart.
DEM is really not for profit.
Nobody makes any money out of DEM. There’s a small team of organisers, most of whom work full-time as EM physicians, and give their time and expertise for free. There’s a broad international array of speakers who not only give their time for free, but most of whom pay full registration fees (to support sponsorship of local delegates) and cover all their own costs. These include speakers that really don’t need the gig, people like Judith Tintinalli, Joe Lex and Jerry Hoffman.
DEM is not compromised by industry sponsorship
DEM does not accept pharmaceutical industry sponsorship. In this age of deep controversy over industry influence on practice, this is a meaningful and important stand against this that no other international EM conference has been able to take, to my knowledge. No toys at tea break is a small price to pay.
DEM happens in countries where EM is developing
DEM recognises that people are practising EM outside of the US and Australasia! We were in Cuba in 2013, and now Brazil, bringing high calibre speakers to practitioners that would not otherwise have live access to them and building connections. #FOAMed is awesome, but if you only speak Portuguese, and work in a developing context, or in Cuba where there is essentially no internet, what is available or relevant to you is limited.
DEM recognises the ‘dirty’ side of medicine
Many conferences focus on the practice of medicine in an ideal fully equipped setting with the assumption that practice is scientific. For me, recognising and understanding the political and inexact nature of health care provision – inequality of access, inequality of standard of care and the undue influence of corporate needs on research and guidelines, as well as pragmatism in the face of limited evidence, limited expertise or limited resources and our own fallibility – is a critical part of being a real physician. DEM does not ignore these factors, despite them being complex and ‘dirty’. Bringing politics to an EM conference? To me this is brave and innovative.
DEM sponsors local delegates and has local speakers
DEM fully sponsored 65 local delegates from Cuba and other Caribbean nations last year, bringing local speakers to their own peers, and to an international audience, and will be doing the same in Brazil this year.
DEM does real-time interpretation
DEM does real-time bilingual interpretation of all presentations and question and answer sessions, making information truly accessible to delegates and allowing people to converse who would otherwise not be able to.
What happens after DEM is cool.
Matt Dawson and Mike Mallin from the Ultrasound Podcast ran an ultrasound course in Castries, St. Lucia and Ricardo Hamilton and Mary Langcake (trauma surgeon from Sydney) ran the first fully accredited ATLS course in the Bahamas in the week after DEM 2013. The first ever Paediatric Intensive Care BASICs course in St Lucia was also organized following DEM 2013, to name but few follow-ons.
Delegate registration fees contributed to computers and USB drives loaded with #FOAMed resources, and EZIO kits that were donated to Cuba, St Lucia and the region after DEM 2013.
A letter signed by conference organisers and delegates was published in the BMJ calling for an end to the US-Cuba embargo in the name of access to health care, raising awareness in the medical community on this complex topic.
The social is awesome
Never got to bed before 2 or 3 in Havana – mojitos, cuba libres, music and Caribbean heat, similar minded folks to share stories and ideas with, hoping Brazil will be the same.
Lee and Mark
These two are brilliant. They are the heart of DEM and have my total confidence and respect.
So, that’s what I think is so good about DevelopingEM. Come and see for yourselves!!