What’s Your Hobby? Conferencing?!

Many say that a life in medicine is a way of life rather than a career. However, like any successful career, you get out of it what you put in to it. It just so happens that medicine is one of the few careers that requires more than just 9-5 education.

Throughout life people will tell you to get a hobby, go outside, meet new people and do something new and different. Without these things life gets boring and you will burnout.

So how to do these things when you have little money, little spare time yet you want to feel like accomplishing something?

I go to conferences.

Yes it sounds dull and boring. Yet I have had some of the best times at these events. As a medical student, every doctor wants you in their speciality. So in order to grab your attention, many put on lecture-light, hands on workshops-heavy conferences.

In October, a group of us ventured to Swansea for a cardiology conference aimed specifically at medical students. While the first day required some attention – all lectures- most of the lecturers were engaging and not simply trying to out do each other. The second day encompassed cardiac suturing, ECG and case studies workshops, aortic valve replacement and emergency treatment of acute cardiac patients. I mean come on, which med students wouldn’t want to try some of those things. Also, a certificate for those vitally important portfolios(!).

This weekend just gone, a similar group of us travelled to Sheffield for a surgical conference organised by the Royal College of Surgery of Edinburgh. 3 brief lectures, each individually captivating and eye-opening. One looking at the life of a cardiac surgeon, one on military surgery and the difference between the careers and the final talk on breast cancer from a patients point-of-view, the patient happening to be a consultant breast cancer surgeon.

The workshops were picked before arriving. My choices were:

  • Cricothyroidotomy – emergency airway management and surgery to enable a patent airway
  • Sebaceous Cyst Excision – Using porcine tissue, we excised a fig (acting as a lipoma) and a cod liver oil tablet (sebaceous cyst) from the tissue and sutured it up.
  • Laparoscopy – practise key-hole surgery (using the tools and camera to move around objects and perform motor tasks with the equipment. Somehow ended up winning a certificate for best laparoscopic technique at the conference, which considering I’m a 1st year student surrounded by attendees ranging from 1st year students to 2nd year core trainees, i’m quite proud.

Conferences are great. As a student they’re cheap to attend, you network with consultants at the top of their fields, you meet other students from other universities and if you have research, you can present with prizes given for the best presentations. While it still feels work related, a change of scenery and personnel can do a world of good.