I attended the RCGP annual conference ‘Future Proof: Resilience in Practice’ from 2-4 October. The event was set in the wonderful city of Liverpool where there were around 2000 delegates in attendance over the three days. I found the entire three days stimulating, interesting and thought provoking. There were some excellent plenary speakers that inspired the room and some that sparked lively debate (Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health). Given the title of the conference, resilience was discussed a lot throughout the different sessions, with a focus on burnout and how to develop resilience. On the final day one of the plenary speakers who had been to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Mission spoke with passion – he suggested that if you feel low, downward comparison is always good for morale: compare yourself to Emperor Penguins who must fast for 4 months, whilst balancing an egg on their feet at minus 40 degrees. The speaker reminded us how Emperor Penguins improve their resilience, they huddle together to protect themselves from the cold wind and rain. We should remember that there is strength in numbers and when we feel like our resilience is slipping to turn to a colleague for support.
Outside of the plenary sessions there were concurrent seminar events with up to 8 different sessions to choose from, allowing variety and giving the opportunity to tailor the event to your own interests. I attended several seminars including one titled “Being a researcher makes me a better clinician” with four speakers at different stages of their research career. They each explained how they felt research had impacted how they practice clinically, ranging from use of Cates plots to discuss risk with patients, to using their research to implement a new model of care within their CCG for elderly patients. A further session I attended was a live Twitter debate in conjunction with the Society for Acute Medicine about the use of social media in medicine with four panellists and a moderator. The debate was interesting with both the benefits (easy access and the instant distribution of information) and drawbacks (instant publishing and the inability to withdraw a comment before it is seen, and the perceived lack of access to social media by older generations) being explored.
In between sessions there was a very full conference hall with over 400 poster presentations and many promotional stands. It was difficult to look at all the posters but by Friday the judging of posters had taken place and the best in each group were marked with rosettes which helped to focus attention. My poster was part of this exhibition, entitled “Audit of NICE guidelines for Sore Throat”. There were two attended poster sessions where the presenters were available to answer questions.
The conference allowed an excellent opportunity for networking, learning and expanding my horizons for what is achievable not just in terms of research but also within General Practice. I left feeling refreshed and excited about the future and will definitely attend future RCGP conferences.
Emily Wersocki, Keele University