Small children prevented Henry and I spending too much time out on the town enjoying what Dublin has to offer. One advantage of this was that we were both able to enjoy the mornings sessions without the hangovers that so many of our friends and colleagues had.
The theme for the morning plenary session was “Slaying Sacred Cows”. Four excellent speakers took the time to challenge long held beliefs and make us question some of our ingrained ideas.
Resa Lewiss began by talking about leadership. To some of us the word ‘leader’ conjures up images of old white men with power ties and masculine poses. Res reminded us that over half the medical population are women and it is time for us to realise this. Just as we have seen #Ilooklikeasurgeon trend worldwide she wanted to trend #IIlooklikealeader. With many strong leaders in the world of paediatrics this is something that we at Don’t Forget The Bubbles support wholeheartedly. SMACC has tried hard this year to ensure gender equity with the speaker panel and this is one of our core aims for #DFTB17.
Resa had the following tips for those that want to inspire and lead:-
Praise in public, criticise in private
Make decisions – don’t be indecisive
Concentrate on your strengths and let others cover your weaknesses
Make people feel good about themselves
If you don’t ask you don’t get
As someone who is an extreme introvert it was this final point that really made me reflect. Nat May has already written a superb post on impostor syndrome but it is worth remembering that there is power in breaking free of the self-imposed shackles of quietitude and putting yourself out there and just asking for help.
Paediatric surgeon and presentation skills guru Ross Fisher showed why he is so well respected as a speaker. Eschewing supportive media he took to the stage to speak about fear. Over the course of twenty minutes he spoke about some of the times in his life in which he had been truly scared. Not the sort of fear you get riding on an out of control roller-coaster but the sort of deep, visceral fear that makes your mouth dry up, your head pound and your legs shake. By the end of his talk there was barely a dry eye in the house (or on the stage). This is a must watch talk when it comes out and is the one that really made me just stop and think.
The morning was topped off by the fabulous Liz Crowe. She reminded us that we obviously all love our jobs – most of us seem to spend over a third of our lives there – but like any relationship we can have good times and not-so good times. Just as any marriage takes effort to make it work the same is true for our relationship with our job. We need the support of our work husbands and wives when times are tough and to remind of us of those times when we basked in the afterglow of our first successful resuscitation.
And whilst we love our jobs Liz reminded us that we must also love our patients. We must treat them all with kindness and compassion. They did not, would never, choose to be in hospital. We must always, always remember that. A kind word, a cup of tea, a warm blanket go a long way.
After coffee we broke for concurrent sessions. I went to the session entitled “Time to gas, time to cut”. Karim Brohi spoke about Zen and the Art of Trauma, again reinforcing the need for the leader to be the centre of calm. That calmness is infectious. We’ve heard about tools we can use in the moment to help use regain calm but Karim reminded us that calmness is a learned behaviour. It is paying attention to the minor details, reducing errors and variance in the system. It is understanding when less is more, that some patients do not need every conceivable test but only the necessary tests to get them to theatre. And it is mentally rehearsing for every possible outcome.
And whilst some of the talks may seem heavy, the morning session was completed by the (not safe for work) Suman Biswas. I’ll leave this here…