SAPC ASM 2022 - reflections from two early career researchers

A blog by Dr Nicola Cooper-Moss and Dr Hassan Awan

5th August 2022

A multi-celebration

Well, what a conference! After over two years of virtual meetings, it was exhilarating to see so many of our colleagues in person at this year’s Annual Scientific Meeting (ASM). The 3-day event was a multi-celebration of recovery, innovation and of course SAPC’s 50th ASM.  One of the biggest highlights for us was hosting the conference on our “home turf” of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston. Both of us share our first experiences of academic clinical fellowships at UCLan, which ultimately opened the doors to the exciting world of academic general practice. This sense of investing in productive partnerships and community growth which defines the university’s ethos, was undoubtedly tangible throughout the conference.

So many opportunities…

It was a privilege to get involved behind the scenes as members of this year’s Scientific Programme Committee for the first time. We were able to see what pulling off an ASM of this scale really involves, learning from some of the best in the business. Putting abstracts in similar ‘buckets’ to be presented in streams, and thinking of innovative names (or trying to) for these was a highlight, as well as understanding how senior academics judge quality to decide prizes. The conference itself also provided numerous opportunities for us to develop our wider academic skills, such as co-chairing oral presentation sessions and facilitating poster discussions. We were blown away by the quality of presentations, particularly those delivered by some outstanding undergraduate students and early-career researchers. This enthusiasm was especially encouraging amid our current primary care recruitment crisis.

Innovation at top gear

Whilst many projects and events were paused during the COVID-19 pandemic, innovation has undoubtedly continued at top gear. This was excellently showcased by our speakers in the joint SAPC/ASME session, with work presented by our UCLan colleagues, Dr Helen Miles and Dr Abhi Jones. This was innovative work presented in innovative ways, with a live link and members of both SAPC and ASME being able to ask questions to the speakers presenting in Preston and Aberdeen. In their prize-winning presentation for education, we heard about the impact of online multi-disciplinary team simulation. We also had the pleasure of hearing Prof Joanne Reeve talk about her research on medical generalism and her recommendations for overcoming the growing challenges facing modern general practice.


Small talk and serendipitous moments

Another highlight was the opportunities for in-person networking. There was a renewed appreciation for the serendipitous coffee-break conversations that turn out to spark new ideas and transform career journeys. The conference brought us together to discuss our shared interest in health inequalities, and it was great to develop collaborations with other allied health professionals who dedicate their working lives to challenging current models of care and asking how we can do better in a whole host of different areas.