Personal Views

A conference without a programme

BMJ 1995; 311 doi: (Published 15 July 1995) Cite this as: BMJ 1995;311:202
  1. Iona Heath
  1. IONA HEATH is a general practitioner in London

    Ienjoy art galleries, but I have a snobbish antipathy to guided tours and I cannot bear to be in the same room as a painting by Francis Bacon. So, there I was last June trapped among strangers on a guided tour of Oslo's Astrup Fearnley Museum in a room replete with Francis Bacons. In other circumstances I would have walked away but, as I felt obliged to stay, I began slowly to confront the distorted anguish in the paintings. I began to see parallels with the process of acknowledging the pain and anguish in the life of the patient sitting across the desk in general practice. I was forced to reflect and I began to learn. It was the first night of the second “learning in medicine” conference and it set the tone for the whole event. It was to be a conference without a programme, which brought medical teachers together to learn, simply by reflecting on their own experience of both learning and teaching.

    Three full conference days followed. Each started with one or two short keynote addresses designed to provide ideas to trigger discussion and thought. All the rest of the time was given over to parallel workshops. Leaders and topics for the first day had been prearranged but thereafter the programme was blank and we …

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