Professionalism and performance, Wellness - organisational

ACEM ASM 2018 Thoughts and Reflections – The vibe

By Alex Markwell, Bethany Boulton & Melanie Rule

We’re writing this from the airport lounge after an amazing week at Australasian College for Emergency Medicine’s Annual Scientific Meeting 2018 – On the Edge. Congratulations to the conference organisers who offered a balanced and well curated program of science, humanity and entertainment, which attracted more than 900 FACEMs and trainees to Perth, Western Australia. Starting with the pre-conference workshops, continuing through to the plenaries and concurrent sessions, the themes of kindness, wellness, compassion, equity and connection shone through.

This year was a special event for ACEM celebrating it’s 35th year as a college. There was a touching tribute to the past presidents of the college, who all appeared together on stage for a memorable photo opportunity.

Adjunct Clinical A/Prof Diana Egerton-Warburton (@First_do_noharm) set the tone with her Tom Hamilton Oration with themes of kindness and compassion and suggested that we should carefully consider the language we use with patients and each other. The twitter-sphere then lit up when Dr Michelle Johnston (@Eleytherius) opened the proceedings with an audio-visual extravaganza and a brief history of time from the point of view of our hosts, the Sandgropers. She finished with a call to arms: “It’s Time. Time’s up, time’s up for bullying and harassment in medicine, time is up for gender inequity and discrimination, time is up for racial discrimination, time is up for the voices of the powerful silencing those beneath them”.

The keynote speakers, A/Prof Anna Holdgate, Dr Ken Milne (@TheSGEM), Dr Martin Than and Prof Eillyne Seow prompted us to ponder clinical reasoning in practice, burnout, big data and deep learning. Prof Tom Calma AO, delivered a moving and powerful ACEM Foundation lecture, highlighting the work being done in Closing the Gap for Indigenous Australians.

A highlight for the WRaP EM team was presenting the inaugural ACEM Wellbeing Awards. We offer heartfelt congratulations to the winners – Dr Ray-Mund Siauw, Dr Rachael Coutts (@rpcounat), St John of God Midlands and the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service. We look forward to seeing the videos outlining their wellbeing programs which will be uploaded on the ACEM Wellbeing site shortly.

The Wellness interactive session we facilitated alongside Ms Andrea Johnston (@andeejohnston) from ACEM and A/Prof Andrew Dean (@andrewdean61) was delivered to a full house. We were incredibly impressed with the level of engagement, the quality of the discussion and the commitment of the group to the conversation regarding all things wellbeing. We heard about mindfulness, strategies such as a barista course for registrars, ensuring 24 hour access to healthy food for staff and other team based and organisational strategies to promote wellness at work. We will publish these great departmental initiatives from all over Australia, New Zealand and even the UK in a blog post coming soon. We love hearing about your strategies and programs, as well as how you might be using the WRaPEM resources in your workplace. Tweet us @WRAPEMtweet or send us photos and we will share…

We were overwhelmed with the number of people who approached us during the conference to discuss wellness issues and initiatives. Thank you to those who shared their very personal stories and experiences with us, sharing vulnerability and exposing the raw emotion of some tragic moments. We can feel the wellness community growing stronger with every social connection we make. In fact, @SVBMedic tweeted “Today I realised that #ACEM18 IS a wellness activity. Thank you to all my wonderful Emergency Medicine colleagues who helped me realise that!”

A key discussion of which we were pleased to be a part at #ACEM18 was that regarding diversity and equity. This is such an important consideration and we encourage everyone to read and respond to the current ACEM document out for consultation ( We were privileged to attend the inaugural Advancing Women in Emergency Medicine (AWE) networking event, where an impressively large group of women and men overflowed from the space provided to come together to show their support for gender equity and diversity.

While this was a scientific meeting, there was plenty on offer for those interested in the more abstract yet complementary aspects of Emergency Medicine. The many interactive sessions including Mentoring, Professionalism and a wonderful new concept, the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, showed that many people come to these events looking for an opportunity to collaborate and share novel concepts. We look forward to many more interactive sessions being included in conference programs in the future.

Bring on Hobart #ACEM19!

We now return home to our respective workplaces and families, exhausted from a busy week of learning and socialising with our colleagues, but with a renewed sense of why we chose Emergency Medicine as a career.

Stay tuned for our next blog highlighting the many wonderful ideas shared in the wellbeing interactive session.  But for now, that’s a WRaP!

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