Another SMACC Perspective

This week (somewhat late) we have another perspective on SMACC from Ben Lawson (@Paramedidad).  Ben is a Paramedic from Queensland and a first time SMACC attendee.  Please note the lateness of this post is entirely my fault: Ben emailed me before even getting home from SMACC.  Sorry Ben!


The post-SMACC return to a non-SMACC World
So I’m typing this on a plane back home from SMACC Chicago. I figure 16.5 hours long haul from Dallas to Sydney is ample opportunity to write my first bit of FOAM as I’ve got nothing to distract me. Apart from on demand movies. And free scotch. But I digress.

A number of people both at home and in the U.S. have asked me what SMACC is. Answering this question is a little like responding to the question “what’s Christmas.” – there’s a number of answers which kind of need to be answered in a specific order to answer it right. So here’s how I answer:
– SMACC represents the flagship of the Free Open Access Meducation movement, aka FOAM.
– FOAM takes the shape of a number of high-quality medical education blogs or websites that clinicians like me can access for free, to make themselves better.
– The writers of these blogs are very experienced clinicians who are out trying to do the same thing I am: give the very best care to our patients.
– SMACC is a conference where these writers, plus about 2,000 other clinicians (doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc) get together to enjoy learning alongside each other about the latest knowledge and techniques applicable to our field.
The first question that comes to people’s minds (and came in to mind when I first went to SMACC) is: why bother travelling to a conference, the content of which you can access for free on the Internet?
Well, last week in Chicago I discovered the answer.
SMACC is about putting human faces and stories to website names that I thought I might never meet. At SMACC, I have the opportunity to witness first hand that medicine is a discipline full of humble and dedicated people, and to realise that I can be one of them, regardless of my rank or work location, how often I ‘tweet’, or who I know. And also that any of these dedicated people are able to be reached out to, to chat about work, patient cases, or just how wonderfully or completely crap working in our field can be.
I learnt plenty of things at SMACC this year. Some new stuff, some old stuff that needed a refresh in my mind. Trying to pull out three main things I learnt this year, I am startled to realise that they are very non-technical and non-clinical, namely:
– Trying to be perfect is stupid,
– Trying humbly to be better than the clinician we were yesterday is to be honoured and respected, and
– Trying to go it alone in this job is a short-cut to leaving it a burnt out wreck.
And I learnt these things from some great clinically experienced minds: Reid, Leeuwenberg, Hinds, Liebig to name but a few.
Going to SMACC is dangerous, peeps. Because every session, tweet, conversation and experience you have there inspires you to go home and make some changes to be better at what you do. This can be a double-edged sword, in that if you’re not careful, you can find yourself planning to sacrifice more me/family time to achieve greater competency in your work. But the inspiration you get from SMACC is also balanced with the reminder from those speakers you respect, that life is bigger than your job, and that being a sane, loving, human part of your family is a far greater calling than medicine ever will be.
Coming up next, I’ll be writing about how I’m adapting my professional development in response to the things I learnt and experienced at SMACC.
Until then, be safe.
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2 Responses to Another SMACC Perspective

  1. Nice comments Ben. Maintain the passion…will u be at #PAIC2015?

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