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College Of Intensive Care ASM

For many intensivists and trainees the end of May was enjoyed in Sydney, in the winter

sunshine, attending our College’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). This year’s meeting

followed the theme “A Gut Reaction”, covering topics from the gut in critical illness, to

liver failure, to pancreatitis, to feeding, and many subjects in between. Not only is

organising such a large-scale event a challenge in itself, providing topics that are

clinically relevant and engaging to a discerning audience can also be a difficult task.

Every year, the CICM ASM seems to improve its delivery of such meetings, with

international speakers, diverse speciality speakers and addressing the gender balance

among its speakers.

This year saw the inaugural Trainee Symposium take place the day before the main

ASM begun. A vision from new fellows and trainees, the Symposium was designed for

trainees of the College to attend a day full of trainee-specific presentations; from Part I

and Part II exam tactics to improving your non-clinical portfolio. At this symposium, of

the 14 speakers throughout the day, 11 were female intensivists or trainees. The first

symposium was well attended and set to highlight the importance of such sessions at

our future ASMs.

Moving on to the ASM itself, day one set a great scene, with exceptional talks from

visiting international speakers Professor Julia Wendon, from King’s College in London,

discussing acute liver failure and Professor Lars Lundell, from Stockholm in Sweden,

discussing GI surgery and critical care. The standard of all presentations was again

exceptional and very relevant to critical care management in today’s world.

The following two days didn’t disappoint either, with great presentations from Dr Stephen

Warrillow on acute liver failure and the management thereof and from Professor Geoff

Isbister discussing paracetamol toxicity and its management. Of note on day two was

the Short Paper Presentation session, chaired by Dr Priya Nair. Ten 3-minute

presentations gave juniors the opportunities to present their work. Of the ten presenters,

7 were women and of those 7, two of them were medical students, mentored by Dr

Bronwyn Avard, Canberra’s ICU Director. I found it refreshing and encouraging that our

doctors-to-be are being given these opportunities and the encouragement from female

role models at the height of their careers. I wish there had been more opportunities like

these for myself when I was at medical school. To have the support, encouragement

and drive to present at a national meeting at the very beginning of their careers is

something to be proud of.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and it seemed a fitting end to attend

the ASM dinner on the Saturday night and watch Professor John Myburgh be presented

with the CICM Medal of Achievement. His oration had his audience in tears and

demonstrated such humility, honesty and dedication that we all took something home

with us that night. His address acknowledged the contribution of women in intensive

care and the need for gender balance and diversity within our speciality. It was inspiring

and thought provoking. His mention of Ubuntu, the African concept that “I am who I am

because of you”, is something we could all do to remember.

So, in the words of John Myburgh, “contribute to humanity, leave a footprint”.

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