Last week, I went to an interesting event. Called Health Camp WM (West Midlands), it was a free unconference about the use of social media for patient care.

Through this event I learnt a great deal. It was interesting to meet people in various different fields: commissioners, communications people, third party providers of health care and several charitable organisation leads, all coming together to understand how we can use social media better for patient care.

I also learnt about the concept of an unconference. This is where there is no set agenda for a conference. In fact there was only 3 short plenaries, of which one was delivered by the local councillor After this followed a session on:’what do you want to do’. Effectively the attendees created their own programme, using topics they wanted to discuss, with an open ethos of collaboration and being sensible. I loved it.

I was also encouraged to hear about the rules of an unconference as detailed below:

  1. People that come are the best people to be there.
  2. What gets done is what gets done
  3. Unconference starts when it starts
  4. Unconference stops when it stops (networking may continue)
  5. The most important one is the law of 2 feet: If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go some place else (1). Go where you want, sit in for as long as you want, do not feel offended if people leave or join part way through.

These rules created an inserting experience and I feel allowed a free flowing, engaging event. There was some duplication, which is not always a bad thing as it means people can attend various streams, safe in the knowledge they not missing something else they want to participate in.

I must admit, despite being the only clinician at event, I still learnt a lot. I felt talking with people from such varied backgrounds gave me anew perspective. One I hope to take back to my clinical practice. I also hope I was useful as a resource to the other conference attendees. Though I am guessing my views are slightly coloured on ,y perspective of commissioning and the current political situation that the NHS is currently in.

Overall I found the unconference model a useful one and something well worth considering for future events if you are planning on running a conference or even teaching/learning event.

I hope my experience is useful to others. I apologise for the lack of posts recently and hope to be back to my former ways soon.

T’il next time

References:

1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-space_technology

http://www.unconference.net/methods/