Why walk 500 miles when you can connect at G4JGlasgow?

Dr Claire Copeland is a Consultant Physician in Care of the Elderly and Stroke Medicine, Forth Valley Royal Hospital, Larbert. She tweets @Sparklystar55

Back in 2014 Scotland was struggling to recruit trainees with 18% of training posts remaining unfilled. While Scotland may be the most beautiful country on the planet (#fact) it’s a vast and largely rural country. This is a unique selling point in some respects however there is the perception that it’s inaccessible and doesn’t have much going on compared to the more densely populated areas of say London, Manchester etc.

There is also the challenge of attracting people into the less ‘glamorous’ specialty that is Geriatrics. This problem isn’t unique to Scotland. A fact recognised by the team behind Association for Elderly Medicine Education (AEME). The founding members of AEME – James Fisher, Mark Garside, and Kelly Hunt recognised a need for high quality education for those delivering care to this older population.

They organised the first Geriatrics for Juniors (G4J) event in 2013. Following on from the success of this came the idea of organising regional G4J ‘Connect’ events.  This seemed liked the ideal opportunity for us north of the border.

A group of enthusiastic geriatric trainees along with Consultant support, set about organising the first ever Connect event in Glasgow.

The main aim was to promote Geriatrics as an attractive career option whilst providing good quality education in some of the common aspects of care in the older person.

The first decision was around when to have it.  We decided on an evening symposium.  Many junior doctors had expressed frustration at not being able to get away to mandatory training days so the chances of them turning up to a daytime event was virtually zero.  Another consideration was whether to charge or not.  Fortunately BGS Scotland stepped in and part funded the event so we could host it for free.  The funding also allowed us to make the final and perhaps the most important decision – provide food!

With the theory ‘if you bake it, they will come’ we decided that we should provide some kind of buffet.  We figured not even the most highly motivated doctor would turn up to a 3 hour evening symposium after a long day on an empty stomach.

So on a cold, damp and dark night in Glasgow we opened the doors at the Victoria Hospital.  We were delighted that for our first event saw 49 people turn up.  We had talks on CGA, Parkinson’s Disease and delirium before finishing with a panel discussion from the Registrars. Feedback was overwhelming positive. We were delighted!

The following year the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow allowed us use of the lecture theatre free of charge. The topics this time still featured CGA but also included syncope and polypharmacy.

A hiatus followed in 2016 with our third event taking place in February 2017.  We were fortunate enough to use the College again.  This time we decided to use ‘Periscope’ to live broadcast the talks. Feedback from the previous year had suggested using video conferencing to make the event more accessible to those unable to attend in person.

Attendance on the night was ~50 but the use of Periscope increased this number almost three-fold. The audience had also become more diverse.  We not only had Foundation trainees but medical students, GP trainees and a couple of Consultants.

With each event we have strived to instill a sense of enthusiasm and passion for a specialty that is the very core of the NHS. We believe it is an opportunity to lay a foundation of good geriatric care that will help influence and shape attitudes towards older people for years to come. If we can also fill vacant posts with Geriatric trainees then we’ll happily welcome them to the best specialty in the world (#fact)…..

Special thanks to Geriatric Registrars past and present for making the G4JGlasgow Connect the success it is today:

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