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2018 AMSA National Convention: Welcome to Perth-fect engagement

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In early July this year, the Australian Medical Students’ Association held our 59th National Convention in Perth. As the world’s largest student-run conference, it hosted more than1000 medical student delegates from across Australia and New Zealand. It was a week of innovative academic and social programs, enhanced by intervarsity competitions, field trips, and workshops. A team of over 100 student volunteers from universities in Western Australia worked for two years to make this huge undertaking possible.

As always, the National Convention was an opportunity for students to showcase their talents, ranging from research with poster presentations and 3 Minute Thesis, Sports Day competitions, debating (won by Monash University), and the Emergency Medical Challenge (won by University of Western Australia).

The academic program was full of motivational Australian and international plenary speakers showcasing contemporary health issues.

The program opened with Burns Specialist, Prof Fiona Wood, speaking to students about harnessing the power of science and technology to strive towards excellence in health care. We were fortunate to be joined by former AMA Presidents, A/Prof Rosanna Capolingua, who spoke on navigating leadership in the medical community, and Dr Michael Gannon, who reflected on his experiences within both AMSA and the AMA, and the advocacy that both groups drive forward. Dr Nikki Stamp spoke on paying attention to detail while not becoming overwhelmed by the minutiae.

There was the opportunity to hear from doctors about working in every context imaginable, from Dr Jeff Ayton’s experiences in Antarctica, Dr Nick Coatsworth travelling from Congo to Darwin with Medecins Sans Frontieres, and A/Prof Gordon Cable’s work in aerospace medicine.

There was also an array of fantastic speakers bringing their expertise from outside the medical world. Steven Bradbury’s recollections of his remarkable Olympic victory included messages that are applicable to all of our daily lives; memory athlete, Daniel Kilov, shared the techniques that make his work possible; and social advocate, Yasmin Abdel-Magied, spoke on challenging stereotypes through personal interactions and navigating a hyper politicised world.

Students left with increased clinical understanding, having battled it out against the hosts of the ‘IM Reasoning’ podcast run by Dr Nic Szecket and Dr Art Nahill in an interactive case reasoning session; heard from Prof Nick Talley on negotiating OSCEs and clinical examination; and participated in workshops on everything from reading ECGs to performing rhomboid skin flaps.

From doctors’ mental health to social issues and innovative medical practice, students learnt about the prominent issues of today’s medical landscape, as well as seeing the endless pathways and opportunities medicine can lead to. Perth Convention 2018 aspired for delegates to discover parts of life and medicine they never knew about before, engage in important issues, meet incredible, like-minded people, and be inspired to leave a lasting positive impression on the field of medicine in Australia.