Rural focus for Armidale Medical Conference

Published 18 August 2011

stethoscope_smallFifty doctors, nurses and students met at the University of New England on Saturday to discuss the latest developments in the treatment of people with heart failure, cancer, and mental illness.

With participants from around the New England and North West regions of NSW as well as from Newcastle, the third annual Armidale Medical Conference (AMCON) had an appropriately “rural medicine” focus.

The incoming Head of UNE’s School of Rural Medicine, Professor Peter McKeown, introduced the conference. Professor McKeown, who takes up his position at UNE in September, said during his visit to the University last week that his vision for the School of Rural Medicine was for it to be not only an educator of first-rate doctors, but also a catalyst for the development of Armidale as a “centre of clinical excellence”.

Professor McKeown said that the AMCON conference was an example of the kind of ongoing education for rural practitioners that he envisaged as an important function of such a “centre of excellence”.

The presenters at the conference included the specialist physician Dr John Flynn and the psychiatrist Dr Saroja Krishnaswami from Armidale Hospital, the interventional cardiologist Dr Hadi Najoumian who will soon move to Armidale Hospital from Sydney, the oncologist Dr Matthew George from Tamworth, and the Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney’s Concord Clinical School, Dr Timothy Lambert.

Dr Flynn talked about managing ischaemic heart disease in rural communities, Dr Najoumian about the causes of sudden death in young people, and Dr George about common cancers and new developments in their treatment. Dr Lambert presented information on the use of drugs in the treatment of mental illness, and Dr Krishnaswami presented a paper on “social capital in mental health”.

Fiona Ord, a social worker in oncology at Armidale Hospital, and Greg Moin, an Armidale solicitor, talked about a framework for advanced care planning they have developed that covers both the health and legal ramifications of end-of-life decision making.

The program included hands-on sessions with sophisticated simulation equipment to practise the management of critical care situations. And about 20 GPs took the opportunity to undertake – during the day – an accredited two-hour course in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

“The third Armidale Medical Conference was a great success,” said its convener, Dr Maree Puxty, Clinical Dean of the Tablelands Clinical School. “The attendees were able to participate in simulation exercises, CPR, and lectures on cardiology, psychiatry and oncology. We all look forward to AMCON 2012, which will be even bigger and better.”