The 5th Annual Women in Medicine in Ireland Network (WIMIN) Conference was held in Limerick on Saturday, 7th October. With 150 in-person registrations and up to 50 attendees online, this was our biggest attendance to date. We were delighted to welcome student members from all Belfast, Dublin, Galway, Cork and Limerick, and we also had visitors from the UK and Canada who made the journey to Limerick especially to be with us.
The theme of the conference was “Challenging Conversations” and our opening speaker certainly challenged our thinking around diagnoses, labels and the social constructs that determine the course and perception of disease. Dr Jules Montague, formerly a Consultant Neurologist and now a writer and broadcaster, revealed some fascinating findings from her book “The Imaginary Patient: How Diagnosis Gets Us Wrong”, including the 19th Century attitudes to neurasthenia and how its management differed between the genders.
Our next speakers covered the extremely important topic of Domestic Violence, giving clear and practical guidance to our audience on how to support women to disclose their experience, and where to go for specialist help.
A panel of women doctors with significant social media experience discussed the pros and cons of interacting with patients and the public through various media platforms, and advocated for providing evidence-based advice to counteract the extensive misinformation that often circulates in social media.
We heard from our partners in the Irish Doctors for the Environment, the Royal Medical Benevolent Fund Society of Ireland, and the FemTech initiative at the Health Innovation Hub. An expert panel then discussed complaints, regulation and litigation. The President of the Irish Medical Council, Prof Suzanne Crowe, was joined by doctors with personal experience of regulatory complaints, as well as experts from the legal and medicolegal research sphere.
We were delighted to have a session dedicated to our student members, which began with a presentation of creative submissions on a range of medical issues, which included spoken word, visual art and contemporary dance. The students then had the opportunity to support their senior colleagues, as a table quiz with some very tricky clinical questions had most of the professors and consultants scratching their heads!
The day finished with a beautiful speech delivered by Dr Sumi Dunne, as she presented the 2nd Annual Dr Sarah Fitzgibbon lecture with poise, humour and an incredible tribute to her brave and determined mother.