Scientific meetings not just for seniors?

Felicity Jones is a final year medical student at King’s College London and current Junior Members Representative for the BGS: representing Junior Doctors (FY1 – CMT2) and Medical Students on the Trainees Council. She tweets personally at @faejones, and for BGS at @younggeris.

You may have seen me at the British Geriatric Society’s Spring Meeting in Manchester, busy directing delegates or thrusting a microphone under your nose. By all rights I Spring 2014should have been stuck in the library revising for my medical finals just three weeks later. But I don’t doubt that the time I spent at the meeting will have a more significant effect on my career than anything I could have learned from a textbook over the same period.


The Spring Meeting provided the opportunity to listen and learn from some of the most renowned geriatricians of our time. As one of the few medical students at the meeting, I was given a free space* in return for my assistance. My tasks, far from unpleasant, placed me in direct contact with the speakers and chairs, and I found myself chatting to Dr Kate Granger, who is rightly seen as one of the most inspiring doctors of our time, before she gave a powerful speech about the use of social media and the importance of compassion in medicine. Having long admired Kate and being a wholehearted supporter of these messages, it was amazing to meet her, and to see many others in the audience also deeply affected by her speech.
Other presentations I enjoyed included a session on the recruitment landscape for geriatrics – defying the prevalent myth that geriatrics is an unpopular specialty and discussing the potential for imaginative dual accreditation training in the future (e.g. in GP and geriatrics, or palliative care and geriatrics) and ‘Vertigo, dizziness and balance disorders in the older person’ which gave a cutting-edge synopsis of the vestibular system that enabled me to answer one of the trickier questions in my written finals paper!

The time in Manchester was beneficial to my work as BGS’s Junior Members Representative, representing the views of medical students and junior doctors to the Trainees Council. Having been unfortunately unable to attend the previous council meeting, I met up with the current and future heads of the Trainees council to discuss the next steps in advancing support for students and junior doctors interested in geriatrics. I was also able to offer the support of my working group to the fantastic G4J team who are hosting a second amazing conference for FY1 – CMT2s: check it out here!

Attending the Spring Meeting was also beneficial personally, as it allowed me to touch base with Professor Walker, current Chair of BGS’ Movement Disorders Section, who will be supervising me during my Academic Foundation programme in Newcastle. The early morning debate he participated in on Treatment Decisions in Parkinson’s Disease rekindled my interest in this condition, which I had enjoyed learning about during my neurology attachment. After this we found a few moments to discuss research projects I could pursue combining geriatrics and global health across the next two years.

It was also fantastic to meet the other medical students helping at the conference and to hear why they are interested in geriatrics. It seems that there are increasing numbers of us who are passionate about caring for older people, and I found it so encouraging to find others who, like me, want to be at the forefront of redesigning our health system to enable it to provide comprehensive, integrated and compassionate care to this increasing sector of our population. For more about why all medical students and junior doctors should be interested in geriatrics, read my previous blog: Generation Geriatrician.
All-in-all, the meeting provided fantastic opportunities to learn about academic, clinical and practical aspects of geriatrics, to connect with and deepen relationships with both eminent geriatricians, and like-minded peers, and to explore and pursue personal and professional interests within the field.

 

If you are a medical student, like me, and thinking that you would like to take advantage of these opportunities and get more involved with the BGS, please conferences@bgs.org for more information about volunteering at events.

*The BGS offers a fantastic grant called the Young Doctors Educational Grant, which junior doctors and medical students can apply for in order to attend educational events, particularly in order to give presentations, and it was through this grant that I was able to attend.

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