As the annual academic year comes to a close, we’re all busy hitting the books hard, gearing up for final exams. Whether it’s first, second or third year, every medical student dreads this time of year. But with the end of the year upon us, it’s also a time to take a look back…
This year has been a busy one for us here at DECCS, a really busy one. Our largest committee to date, our first ever inaugural conference and finally our recent win at the prestigious FAME awards, we certainly went all out!
There had been whispers down the grapevine of a DECCS conference for the past couple years. While the seeds had been planted, until this year DECCS hadn’t yet organized a conference. But this was the year we were deter
mined to get a conference up and running. While the talk of a conference is exciting, a tremendous amount of work actually goes into organizing one. Here at DECCS we had a certain kind of vision in mind with regards to what we hoped our conference would be. We wanted students to be inspired, to be enthusiastic and above all further their passion for emergency medicine and critical care.
After countless meetings, hundreds of emails, and hours of organizing we had the first ticket sales coming in – CODE RED was no longer a whisper among the trauma keen, it was DECC’s first inaugural Conference. And so, on the 17th of February, with our bright red T-shirts, laminated lanyards (we spent hours laminating!) and barely containable excitement we geared up for CODE RED.
I don’t think anyone really appreciates just how much work goes into organising something like this, unless you’ve actually done it before. And that’s the reason for this blog post. There are so many behind the scenes things that need to be done and much of it is very difficult to do and can be quite last minute, due to unavoidable issues.
When working with busy clinicians (or other professionals too!) it is very hard to know very far in advance whether they would actually be available or not, and they didn’t know either, due to the very dynamic nature of their shift work (which is through no-one’s fault) and we inevitably had a lot of worry and panic about “is ____ available? Who’s on standby if they’re not? Do we have all of our speakers? Is that definitely confirmed?! Who’s been told of the change of date – are we sure that’s everyone?” and of course it is a sort of a controlled chaos – an organised, controlled chaos.
Other things that go on behind the scenes that need to be considered include, but aren’t limited to, why a previous committee’s conference didn’t work and what can we do to prevent the same issue? how do we market this in a way and at a price that makes it affordable AND can minimize the cost for us to run it because we don’t normally make a profit from events, we usually just about break-even.
Food – it is so hard to cater for everyone on a society budget, but in the end, we think we did a good job. there are many different diet requirements that various people have for any number of reasons and trying to work out how to get a lunch that suited your vegetarian diet and also suited my gluten-free diet etc. etc. and it was all very stressful but subway; definitely a good shout as a one size fits all solution and so easy to work with.
I’ve alluded to it before but SO many emails! Between contacting our (very kind) sponsors, organizing room booking to actually host the event, recruiting consultants, registrars and FY doctors to help run the day, I honestly think if I didn’t send 1000 emails in semester one, I’ve counted them wrongly.
But there are of course the positive things that make an event like this 100x easier and a strong eager committee is the most important one. A committee that can voice concerns, can allocate tasks well and most importantly, communicate when they need help, was absolutely crucial to this endeavour as without the support of the ENTIRE committee, this wouldn’t have even been near possible to pull off – so get yourself a bunch of guys and girls who are eager to work and a load shared is a load halved after all…
Conference Day started off at half 8, with participants from Dundee, and various other medical schools filing in for registration where they were given their lanyards, Glasgow Coma Scale cards and conference packs filled with a bunch of goodies! The morning then kicked off with four scintillating talks by well-renowned major trauma paramedics, aeromedical retrieval consultants and emergency medicine doctors.
Following the talks, and a great lunctime spread of Millies cookies and subway , it was time for the more practical hands on stuff. While it’s always great to listen to other peoples’ experiences of their careers and various patient cases they’ve come across , we as medical students are always eager for a chance to try our hand at skills and procedures. Trauma and emergency medicine always seems so glamourous and exciting on TV, but real life is far from it. Triaging, packaging and treating patients is very different to the flawless McDreamys that run around on Grey’s anatomy.
We at DECCS, wanted to give students a taste of what being in a major incident situation would actually be like. Operation Major Incident- a train crash trauma simulation. We had simulated patient volunteer actors decked up in moulage, a seminar room converted to look like a train carriage, high vest jackets, torches, spinal boards and triage cards set up. Students were split into two teams – triage and casualty clearing. One group would head into the train crash simulation, quickly triage the simulated patients and send them off to the Casualty Clearing station where the other group would then treat them. Experienced Paramedic Dave Bywater and various other FY doctors facilitated the scenario – helping and teaching students throughout. The “ Do not be alarmed- these screams are for a trauma simulation” signs at either ends of the corridor got a few strange looks, but all in all the simulation was everyone’s favorite part.
Emergency medicine and critical care is not always about major trauma, it’s also about what happens in hospital as well. Difficult airways, ultrasound, and packaging are some essential skills every aspiring trauma medic needs to master. Now what better way to learn than have a go yourself? Apart from the major simulation, the second half of the day was also split into four stations where students got small group teaching on these essential skills. It was a chance to try out ultrasounding a simulated patient, triaging and even getting to use the spinal boards and pelvic binders! Stations were led by experienced consultants, registrars and the BASICS team whom focused on pre-hospital care.
And before we knew it, the day had come to an end. Our first ever National Undergraduate Conference was over and each and every one of us had an unforgettable time putting it all together. Later that night, to celebrate the end to a successful day, the headed out to Dundee’s very own Beer Kitchen- DECCS’ favorite post meeting pub haunt. Feedback from the conference has been overwhelmingly positive, with participants having a great experience.
With the year coming to an end, it was only right to end with the legendary FAME awards that took place on Thursday. For the (I dont even know what number this is) time running DECCS had been nominated in the category of Best Student Society and thanks to the support and votes from fellow students we came in runner-up for Best Society and came away with a hundred fifty pounds which we will be putting towards our events!!! The FAME awards are a great way for students to show their appreciation of fellow staff members and peers who have gone out of their way in the field of teaching. DECCS was very privileged and lucky to have been nominated and to have won thanks to you guys and your support! So thank you for coming to our events, participating and inspiring us to always want to make things better for you. Without you guys DECCS wouldn’t be where it is today. Not to mention the incredible support we get from the clinical skills team, consultant doctors, registrars and FY’s, DECCS is a society that has an entire army of people behind it!
Summer’s almost upon us and the 2017/2018 academic year is but a few exam weeks from being over, but we’re not going out without a bang. After our committee meeting, we have a few things that you might want to keep an eye out for- AGM, Pre-Hospital Day, Year 1 MOSCE night and more…..