The Stanford Medicine X Conference starts today and I'm excited to be up at 4am (maybe not this part) to make that two and half hour drive to Stanford. I know it's going to be great.
Bay Area traffic was no joke. By the time I arrived, the parking attendant already left and the lack of signs made me wonder if I was in the right place.
However, as soon as I entered the building, I was struck by the contagious energy of the atmosphere. It was simultaneously casual and high tech, the perfect environment for unexpected yet brilliant conversations to happen. While the conference occurs in the main hall, it streamed live onto four large screens in the reception area where attendees could continue to check out the exhibits, hold conversations with their peers, or use the internet while keeping up with the speakers.
What's interesting about this atmosphere is how much freedom the attendees have in choosing where, when, and how they want to learn. At all other conferences I've attended, I always felt uneasy pulling out a digital device. At Medicine X, the use of digital devices were not only not frowned upon, it was encouraged. Since I arrived late, I visited some display tables while simultaneously listened to the speakers on screen.
This year's topic focused on medical education. The emphasis was on patient engagement/ empowerment and how we, as medical professionals, can provide patients with better care though communication, collaboration, and educational materials. It has certainly changed the way I view health care. Whereas traditionally the patients play a passive role of accepting their care, here we have patient advocates who are speaking up and working alongside with the health care provider as a team.
In addition to the patient-clinician relationship, there was much attention on the student-teacher relationship. As many clinicians train the next generation of students, they've noticed gaps in the educational system that they are now trying to fulfill. The results are more dynamic classroom learning through the use of multimedia and social media elements. There is greater emphasis now on interdisciplinary teamwork during the training stage, which has in turn helped the educators themselves communicate better with their colleagues during their interdisciplinary collaborations.
As the day came to an end in a technologically overloaded environment, the audience was reminded by the closing keynote speaker, Dr. Abraham Verghese, about what it means to practice medicine. The talk took us back a century before the technology advancements that we have today, when doctors and patients interacts by means of the human touch. He talked about doctors who perfected their skills such that practicing becomes an art, and then the passage of this art onto the students. Dr. Verghese's speech summed up what the first day of 2015 Medicine X was all about: the student-teacher relationship is just as important as the patient-physician relationship, and no matter how much we rely on technology to do our jobs today, never forget what it means to practice medicine.
click here to read about Day 2 of Medicine X.