21 May 2018

Last chance for GPs Down Under 2018 social media conference tickets

CPD Social Media

You have just one week left to get your ticket to the inaugural conference of GPs Down Under, Australia’s largest and fastest growing GP based social media group. TMR reader promotion code is GPDU1820. Tickets HERE. Full program PDF download HERE.

Social media in the outside world is starting to get a bad name for itself. But so far within the medical world, it’s been a force almost entirely for good.

The rise of SMACC (social media and critical care) and Don’t Forget the Bubbles, alongside GPs down under, have been grass roots movements, run by doctors, for doctors, largely with a remit to improve communication and learning, to make learning more accessible and less expensive, and, perhaps most importantly for peer support.

But the rise of social media groups in medicine is not without some angst and controversy. These groups are in many ways shifting the power base of traditional medical member groups such as the AMA, the RACGP and even the higher regulatory bodies controlled by government. This doesn’t sit well with everyone.

Says Karen Price, a GPDU founding administrator: “Social media has always had a bad name for people who don’t use it.   Usually I think to some residual Protestant work ethic that anything social is not work or learning. But with all academics now encouraged to disseminate research outputs and impact on social media and the POTUS using the medium as a form of digital communication, one thing is for sure that digital communication is shifting traditional power structures.” 

 At GPDU18’s opening session , somewhat innocently titled, “Why GPDU?”, we get to hear from the very people who started and maintain the group, why they think that GPDU is serving an important role in the evolution of primary care and the lives of GPs.

It’s taken less than three years for the group to grow to over 5,000 members (GPs and registrars only), and more than 4200 of those members interact on the site each week. Something important is going on.

The GPDU “admins” are a group of 10 GPs who share the load of moderating the site and running the group day to day for free. They like to describe the site as a national park for GPs, where all GPs can come, learn, get supported if need be, and “rumble” on important clinical and political topics, without fear or favour and in safety.

Watching the rise of GPDU with some interest has been the RACGP in particular and interestingly many of the senior RACGP apparatchik, such as president Dr Bastian Seidel, regularly post on the site, seeking to gauge GP mood on a topic, or weighing into a topic that they think is being misread.

GPDU is not the RACGP and never will be, but it does lay claim to doing “advocacy”, “peer support” and “learning”, all of which are in some way or another in the remit of the RACGP as well. So how are those overlapping roles developing?

There is some natural tension in how GPDU grows ,and  how influential it becomes. The “admins” will tell you that they don’t influence anything. They just moderate the site under an established set of guidelines meant to further its pillars of learning, advocacy and peer support.

But the truth is that GPDU is a place where a lot of open and robust discussion takes place about primary care and that in itself can change things.  Many people maintain that last years controversial RACGP governance vote would have gone the other way in the days before GPDU. If that is true then GPDU is indeed underlining some sort of significant shift in how GPs interact, communicate, and determine their own future.

“Why GPDU?”is a fascinating question when you think about it. What unmet need has underpinned it’s growth? How does it stay as a grass roots group and hold onto it’s core values as it grows in size, power and influence? Where is the line between this group and other member groups like the AMA, RACGP and so on? How does it all continue to evolve for the greater good of medicine and not one day succumb crack in the face of too much power and influence as other social media groups seem to have done from time to time?

If you want to check out all the sessions and speakers at this years GPDU conference you can download a PDF of the full program HERE. For tickets, use the promo code GPDU1820 and go to tickets HERE.