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Change against the grain: Shweta Gidwani at DFTB19

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Shweta Gidwani graduated from Seth G.S. Medical College, Mumbai, India in 2002. S. She has been involved in the development of emergency care service delivery and training programs in India for several years and was invited to join the International Emergency Medicine section at George Washington University as an Adjunct assistant professor in 2013, where she works on the India programs. This talk, the opening talk proper after Mary set the scene, is a stark reminder of just how the world really works.
©Ian Summers

The Chaotic Reality of Emergency Care

A Glimpse into the Past

Shweta vividly describes her early experience in an Indian government hospital’s casualty department. The chaos was palpable, with emergency care delivered in a disorganized manner. Patients, often undifferentiated and lacking a dedicated healthcare provider, faced life-threatening situations in a system that viewed emergency work as a burden.

The Toll on Healthcare Professionals

The disorganized state of emergency care not only jeopardized patients’ lives but also took a significant toll on healthcare professionals. Emergency work was perceived as an interruption to career progression. The result: burnout, frustration, and, tragically, a high rate of suicides among medical professionals.

A Healing Distance and a Burning Desire

Rejuvenation in the UK

Shweta’s journey took a turn as she found herself working in the UK’s NHS, experiencing a functioning healthcare system. The joy of being an emergency medicine doctor was rekindled, but the memories of the chaotic Indian casualty department persisted. A burning desire to make a difference propels her forward, even as the magnitude of the problem in India seems insurmountable.

Perspective Shift and the Power of Networks

Shweta emphasizes the transformative power of perspective, influenced by the people we surround ourselves with. Through networking and collaborative efforts, she encountered Katherine Douglas, a global health emergency medicine leader, and together they laid the foundation for change.

The Birth of Educational Initiatives

The Power of Education

Shweta and Katherine recognized that the key to transforming emergency care lied in education. They decide to teach, learn to be better teachers, and grow a global network of educators. Their initiative focused on bringing international expertise to India, creating a robust system of education that can save lives.

Overcoming Institutional Challenges

The duo faces institutional challenges in India, where emergency medicine wasn’t recognized as a specialty until 2009. Despite the Medical Council of India’s limited commitment to training emergency doctors, Shweta and Katherine press on, undeterred by the vast scale of the problem.

Impact and Transformation: Stories of Success

Network of Educators

Over the years, Shweta and Katherine have cultivated a network of over 200 teachers from various countries. They have trained more than 800 doctors in India, with 100 soon to complete a rigorous three-year training program. Their initiative extends to partnerships with 16 emergency departments, creating a network of emergency medicine providers and trainers.

Individual Stories of Change

Shweta shared inspiring stories of individuals like Dr. Venu Gopal, a pioneer in emergency medicine in North Kerala, and Dr. Fabith, an educator bringing point-of-care ultrasound training to India. These individuals not only transform emergency care within hospitals but also reach out to communities, providing essential training in basic life support and disaster management.

Key Takeaways: Lessons from Shweta’s Journey

Don’t get bogged down by the “tyranny of hows.” Instead, change one’s perception to align with the desired reality.

Build a network of like-minded individuals who share values. It becomes your moral compass, guiding you through challenges and setbacks.

Be a firefly. Being part of a brightly lit network amplifies the impact, creating a collective force for change.

This talk was recorded live at DFTB19 in London, England. With the theme of  “The Journey” we wanted to consider the journeys our patients and their families go on, both metaphorical and literal. DFTB20 will be held in Brisbane, Australia. If you want our podcasts delivered straight to your listening device, subscribe to our iTunes feed or check out the RSS feed. If you prefer the visual medium, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Please embrace the spirit of FOAMed and spread the word.
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