Paradoxically politics should not be boring. It should be about passion! A passion to change things for the better, for the majority, for the country, or for humankind.
The reason why you have not heard of “medical meeting apathy” is because I just made the term up. I have seen it creeping in over the last 20 years. Many past colleagues and research compatriots are nowadays never seen at medical meetings. Perhaps they feel that they can keep up to date by reading journals and looking up the occasional guideline on the BSG website? No doubt, the institutions they work for are happy to keep their noses firmly pressed against the rockface. Furthermore, partners and young children are rarely pleased to see you go away. How is little John going to get back from Rugby camp on Sunday? Who is going to take young Phillippa back from her dance classes on Tuesday?
Taking a little “me time”, away from the coalface not only make us better doctors, but also more fulfilled human beings. Furthermore, a larger membership base makes it more difficult to ignore Gastroenterological issues in Brussels, Whitehall or wherever the corridors of power lie.
So how can we claw back some territory lost to “medical meeting apathy”? The UEG Week 2013 has several new features attempting to do just this. Naturally, you can still ask questions using your mobile telephone, but you can now also linger after presentations for a more in-depth discussion with speakers. Daily, round table discussions have also been introduced. To encourage participation, there is even a free lunch! Will more tedious topics such as viral hepatitis, be provided with a better lunch? In addition, there are more “tandem talks”, whereby two presenters thrash out the ins and outs of some topic. For the Postgraduate Course, I have been paired up with Dieter Hahnloser to debate the “Management of Dysplasia in Colitis”. We have put something special together.
Some other controversial topics have been juxtaposed such as Guy Boeckxstaens who argue that refractory GORD is all about the acid pocket, versus Ronnie Fass who believes that it’s all in the brain (does he mean in the mind?). Fernando Azpiroz talks about functional disorders being part of the lifestyle versus Robin Spiller who believes that it is post-infective. Naively, I am surprised that there is nobody arguing that its usually in the patients head. I guess that its no accident that I am an endoscopist. There is also a session looking into non-invasive monitoring of liver disease (biomarkers vs elastography). Can’t help to think that we can get all the prognostic information in reply to 3 simple questions: a) Do you have a Job? b) Do you have a Drivers License? c) Do you have a Wife? If the patient replies "No" to all 3 questions, the prognosis is grim!
For those poor people left behind, manning the coalface, there is “live streaming” from 2-3 sessions every day. Furthermore, 3 sessions will be recorded and published online by Tuesday 15 October; “Multidisciplinary management of IBD”, “Non-invasive testing and staging in GI and Liver Disease” and the Monday morning Opening Plenary Session. Finally, your friends and colleagues can monitor your social activities on the new Live UEG Social Wall.