‘Electric Picnic for docs’ brings 500 to city this week

More than 500 doctors and health care professionals will attend this week’s sold-out dotMD Festival of Medical Curiosity at NUI Galway. Dubbed an “Electric Picnic for docs,” the conference will run tomorrow and Saturday (September 13/14 ) in the Bailey Allen Hall.

Organised by Galway-based doctors Dr Ronan Kavanagh, Dr Muiris Houston, and Dr Alan Cross, the award winning festival for doctors aims to “Reawaken a passion and wonder for medicine that some might have lost along the way”, according to dotMD Director Dr Kavanagh.

This year’s meeting will see a strong emphasis on seeing medicine through the lens of stories and storytelling. Irish writer Colum McCann will deliver the keynote presentation entitled ‘I Sat, I Listened, I Cured - Medicine and the Fine Art of Storytelling’, and there will also be a live story-telling event featuring doctors.

Doctors attending dotMD will also see what they can learn about improvisation from jazz musicians, and how they can improve their skills of observation by looking at art. There will also be an exhibition of graphic medicine, a new discipline which explores the value of cartoons in healthcare, featuring the work of 38 cartoonists from around the world, sponsored by the Galway Clinic.

In addition, there will also be a strong emphasis on the inner lives of doctors, with advice from experts on how best to maintain compassion and kindness in medicine, despite the stresses and challenges involved. It will also feature a session on having better conversations around death with writer Dr Kathryn Mannix.

Dr Kavanagh added that although this might be considered the Golden Age of medicine, with so many positive developments in how healthcare is provided, doctors are suffering.

“Rates of depression, burnout and other stress related illnesses are high in medicine at the moment, resulting in some leaving the profession or even retiring early.

“Although the reasons for this are complex, the challenges of delivering medicine in a modern environment have taken their toll on doctors, thereby impairing their ability to deliver quality healthcare.”

Co-organiser Dr Muiris Houston said that although they don’t claim to have all the solutions to medicine’s problems, they wanted to create an experience that would help doctors reconnect with what matters in medicine, to reinvigorate and to re-inspire them, and to help them find meaning in their working lives.

The conference has received support from local Galway businesses, teaming up with Galway’s West End, which will function as a social hub for delegates, and with support from McCambridges and from Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.

“We are excited to bring such a large national and international audience to Galway. Our meeting will bring together a community of like-minded people, to be entertained and hopefully reinspired in how they practice medicine”, said dotMD co-organiser Dr Alan Coss.

dotMD is intended for health-care professionals only and further details can be found at www.dotmd.ie

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