Last week we highlighted the programme for the GURRMS (Glasgow University Remote & Rural Medicine Society) conference in Portree. Over 80 students and delegates attended this event last weekend, and as expected, it was a superbly positive event that covered many aspects of rural practice in Scotland and beyond.
It must be highlighted once again, that tickets for this event sold out within 15 minutes of becoming available online. Behind the conference was a ton of work, ably overseen by GURRMS President and final year Glasgow medical student, James McHugh – who compered the activities along with his committee with aplomb, tight organisation and enthusiasm.
A good line up of varied speakers featured on the first day of the conference. Dr Emma Watson opened the conference, and after this I gave a presentation on ‘Rural GP – Is it What It’s Cracked Up to Be’ – with an honest portrayal of opportunities and challenges that exist within a career of rural practice. I used some of my own stories to highlight the privilege that many of us feel in being able to provide primary care (along with all the additional services of rural practice) to our communities, along with the breadth of practice that keeps days interesting, challenging and demanding of effective teamwork. We touched upon some of the current challenges of getting health policy adequately rural-proofed, and reflected that this is a worldwide challenge – which makes for truly international career opportunities.
This was followed by Dr Luke Regan talking about ‘Why I Love My Job and You Should Too’ – he is an Emergency Physician at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness with experience of delivering rural emergency care both in Scotland and Australia. His talk included a simulated walk-through of a rural cardiac emergency, ably assisted by student ‘volunteers’ from the audience.
Prof Phil Wilson explored the research and academic opportunities available to rural GPs, and considered the ethical obligation on us all to appraise and share lessons learned from service and therapeutic innovations.
Dr Jacqueline Bennebroek then offered an insight into her work as a Rural Practitioner at the MacKinnon Memorial Hospital in Broadford, Skye.
Workshops were run on ‘The Lesser Spotted BASICS Responder’ by Dr Ben Price, and a Training Perspective of Rural Practice by Dr Ian Pooleman and Dr Ailsa Leslie. Three well-delivered presentations in Pecha Kucha style featured from Duncan Stewart, Isla Kempe and Ellen Gardner on their student experiences, from elective placements to reflections on being a student on the new Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship now offered to Dundee 4th year students. The verdict – a big dose of reassurance that LICs offer a fantastic environment for learning medicine, and the fears about having gaps in knowledge did not materialise. Indeed this has been shown in repeated reviews of LIC learning that students conclude their LIC placements with greater knowledge, insight and propensity to pass exams.
Rural surgical legend Dr David Sedgwick talked about his Life and Work as a Rural Surgeon over 25 years – most of which was at the Belford Hospital in Fort William. The fact that David had just arrived back from teaching in Rwanda the previous day was particularly impressive, and highlighted again the role that rural doctors and surgeons can have in global healthcare.
The keynote talk ‘Rural Health Worldwide’ was delivered by rural health stalwarts Prof Roger Strasser and Prof Sarah Strasser. They had travelled into Scotland the previous day, covering even more impressive mileage than David Sedgwick… it is perhaps testament to the GURRMS committee that they facilitated such experienced input, and that Roger and Sarah were willing to travel from Canada and Australia respectively to make it to Portree. Their talk was followed by a particularly engaging question and answer session, and it was clear that delegates were inspired and enthused by the perspectives that Roger and Sarah brought to the conference.
The day concluded with an evening reception including ceilidh. The next day GURRMS successfully ferried delegates across north west Scotland – with some walking in nearby scenery, some opting for whisky tasting, some going for mountain rescue training and some travelling to the Western Isles for a 2 day trip to see the hospital in Stornoway and the surrounding area.
Well done once again to the GURRMS Committee for a well-organised, good-natured and inspiring conference. We hope to see plans develop for GURRMS19 next year – and we hope that the Scottish rural GP community will support the event once again.
More photos below…