Missed the CEM Annual Scientific Conference in Exeter?
Well, you missed a good one – there was a good venue, slick organization, a varied programme and glorious sunshine all week. There was even an afternoon of outdoor activities such as mountain biking or paddle boarding… although the irony of the playtime afternoon clashing with the session on optimizing career sustainability & work-life balance was noted!
However, once upon a time if you missed a conference, that was it. You might hear a snippet from a smug colleague (“oh, I heard it at CEM…”). Even you did go, it wasn’t uncommon to come away thinking that the talks in Hall A sounded better than the ones you attended in Hall B. But today there’s no need to miss out completely. The advent of FOAMed means that everyone can get more out of major conferences, whether you were there in person or not.
The UK Emergency Medicine community is getting enthusiastic about Twitter-reporting conferences, and in lectures at CEM 2014 there were many people tapping away on their smartphones and tablets – a change in behavior for speakers to cope with, but the result was that any speaker who made an impression on the audience would generate a flurry of Tweets, and even people who aren’t at the conference can now access key messages by following the conference hashtag.
Then there’s the use of video podcasts – the CEM YouTube channel has short, 5-minute summaries of key learning points by the speakers themselves, who seem to have been corralled into a makeshift video studio after giving their talks.
Finally – and this is why I’ve been asked to contribute to this blog – there’s a relatively new idea of pooling notes made at the conference for a wider audience. We started this in Bangor last year, and CEM 2014 is the fourth event we have produced an interactive e-magazine format report of the event – you’ll find them all posted at www.scribd.com/BangorED . They are entirely written, edited & designed by clinicians – we are not professional reporters!
Everyone who has contributed has commented how much the process of formally writing up their notes and digging out relevant web links has helped their own reflection and learning: we hope our conference reports bridge the gap between traditional reporting and FOAMed.
Of course, the whole point of a conference is to get a group of people together. Nothing can replace the networking, and our coverage of the smaller streams (e.g. moderated posters, free papers) is poor. Plus, it takes a critical mass of people to be present at enough talks to produce a report worth reading, but we can’t possibly cover every single talk at any event. So, whilst our reports are “nearly as good as being there”, do still strive to attend if you can.
For anyone organizing a CPD event, please do bear in mind that free wi-fi access is essential nowadays. Speakers – don’t take offence at your audience tapping away on their phones/tablets and taking photos of your slides, and do humour them with some soundbites that will resonate round the Twittersphere.
And, obviously, if you haven’t yet discovered how to turbo-boost your CPD, for heaven’s sake do sign up for Twitter! Ten minutes a day and you’ll know what is brand spanking new in EM. Just don’t get side-tracked into following celebrities!
Linda Dykes, Consultant in Emergency Medicine, Bangor (Ysbyty Gwynedd), North Wales