Medical Conferences In India, A Critical Analysis

Dr. Lakshmanan Prakash

Orthopedic, Plastic Surgery
 Yesterday at 4:13 PM


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There are three types of medical conference/ workshops.
A. Organised by Associations and societies of doctors, These conferences are highly political, scientific content is low, speakers are chosen more for their connections than work, have a very large trade exhibition and a larger banquet is more of a Kumbh Mela or a circus. It costs a bomb to register, the city is full of specialists of one kind, and younger surgeon intent on learning is sorely disappointed. A young surgeon back from an IOACON, (the national orthopaedic conference) would certainly not learn to actually perform even one new surgical procedure. 
The type of presentations here are “See how brilliant my results are and that is what I have done, am I not great?” No speaker actually tells the delegates “How I did this!”.
The level of use to surgeon: Less than 20%. This is more of a holiday or picnic where you take your family. Eat dinners, enjoy lunches. Trade stalls are full, lecture halls empty. But enjoyable nevertheless.
B. Those organised by Commercial companies, purely to plug their product. Here the entire focus is on teaching the delegates how to do a particular surgical or operative procedure using a specific company’s instrumentation or products. This conference is heavily subsidised, workshops are decent. The delegates are chosen by the company, strictly on the basis of the surgeon’s competence to purchase the company products. Wine and dine. Five-star comforts. Some real teaching. But the delegate returns having learnt how to do a Zimmer or Stryker Knee, rather than how to do a knee replacement.
The type of presentations here are “See how brilliant this company’s knee instrumentation is? and see how beautiful the implant design is! So what if it costs 1.5 L for the patient, use a 100 of these and we sponsor a USA trip for you. Factory visit, plus scrubbing up with an American surgeon”
The level of use to surgeon: 20 to 60%. Here you actually learn but learn only one side of the story. The faculty is decided by the company and so is the course content.
C. The third rarer type of workshop/conference is where a few dedicated crazy guys get together and decide to actually teach. Here no commerce is involved. No company sponsors events. No trade stalls. No wasted time. It is entirely learning and teaching. Most faculties pay their own fare. The course and workshop is aimed with a single point agendum. TO TEACH. The costs are barely covered by delegate fees, and many a time organisers cover the shortfall from their pockets. Pampering is meagre. wasteful expenses are cut.
The type of presentations are “this is how you do it. Come, let me show you how to do it. I will guide you step by step, and remain beside you.”
The level of use to surgeon: 80 to 100% provided you don’t sleep during the lectures or skip workshops for an afternoon beer. And even if you do this, we have some insurance for you.
In my view, an ideal teaching workshop or conference should have the following features. Below is a description of the workshop going to be conducted in next month.
Normal conferences have didactic lectures all clubbed together and workshop sessions in another area the next day. So one day it is all theory, the other day all practical.

After conducting a few conferences, and getting appropriate feedback, the entire conference format has been changed this year. It is intended to have two sessions each day. Each session of four hours will have two hours of lectures and videos, followed by two hours of workshops.

The seating arrangement will be open with ten tables in the hall and 10 chairs along each table. Each table will contain a stand, the bone or rubber models, the power tools, and the instrumentation needed for that module. After the lectures, the delegates will immediately try the hands on under the guidance of one or two individual workshop table mentors per table.

The lectures will be video-graphed and uploaded on Educational Media Channel. Every delegate will get his unique ID and password, to enable him or her to hear the lectures as many times as they revise.

It has dispensed with the inauguration, felicitations, and other ceremonial things like the lighting of the lamp. Even the certificates will be handed over with the registration kit. Those wanting photographs can do it in banquet, collecting the certificate from their favourite faculty.

Also dispensed with the souvenir and memento. Instead, each delegate is getting a 15 DVD set, with operative videos, PDF books, PPT presentations, Mpeg files, and jpeg images. A valuable resource package of over 70 GB. Around 700 articles, books, videos and ppt presentations. Half a lifetime reading.

Ten tables, nine to ten delegates per table, with one stand and instruments sets. The models will be five bones and three silicone models per table. This will ensure that each delegate gets an adequate hands-on experience of the procedure.

A dedicated social group of all delegates, where we will be taking regular opinions of the participants, and use the constant feedback course correction protocol.

Substantial course material shall be shared with each delegate well in advance. This will ensure that each participant has done his homework well, and is able to get the maximum benefit from the course.

There will be absolutely no paperwork. Everything will be electronic and paperless. Form filling, money transfer. Teaching material. Delegate kit and the works, all shared to the users mobile phone.

The purpose of this post is to stimulate the thought process of the conference organisers so that more and more conferences arranged in the future move towards the third type, the most beneficial one for the delegates and participants.
What are your perspectives 

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