SMACC, The Social Media and Critical Care Conference, is always a highlight for me.  As a rural doctor on Kangaroo Island (an island off of South Australia) it s a great chance to hobnob with the world’s best in emergency and critical care.  I was even been fortunate enough to speak previously at smaccGOLD and  smaccCHICAGO.  This year, however, I declined the chance to speak at smaccDUB, only serving as faculty for the smaccFORCE airway workshop. Not speaking was one of the best decisions I could have made – no more stressing about preparation or delivery, instead able to wander the conference and dip in and out of sessions at a whim.

With so many simultaneous sessions (concurrents) and the standard presentation noticeably better year over year, there were so many rich sessions to choose from. Like many, I excitedly depend on the forth coming vod- and podcasts to fill in the gaps for the sessions I had to miss (please made sure to look for those podcasts as they are released in September).

On the last day, the time when smacc fatigue sets in and the seats are a bit emptier then days before, I found myself in the “Igniting Minds” concurrent. The session opened standout talks from Tom Evens and Sandra Viggers on the importance of coaching and self directed learning respectively.  The session ended with my old friend Ross Fisher, reminding us all how to give the best presentation in the world. But amongst that brilliance, the crew from Fem In EM moved the audience to both tears and joy – they received a standing ovation from me.

What made this talk special? Well, first up a brilliant line up – it’s unusual to have three presenters in one short 20 minute talk, but the team of Dara Kass, Jenny Beck-Esmay & Stacey Poznanski delivered a well-rehearsed sequence of powerful stories that resonated with all in the room.

It’s unnecessary to spoil the surprises – you’ll have to listen to the podcast yourself when it is released; suffice it to say the power of collaboration and use of social media via the website was ably demonstrated, with fantastic examples of mentorship, development of role models and fostering a community of support.

I should be clear – I am not a Fem In EM. Instead I am a middle-aged white male working predominantly in primary care in rural Australia. I’m part of smacc because work as a rural doctor intersects with critical illness and emergency medicine. But the FemInEM tales of mutual support, of gender inequality (who knew that females physicians in the US may earn as little as 64% of their male colleagues) and of sacrifice (arriving home late from an enriching day in practice to receive not approval but reproach from family) resonated with me. Simple interventions, such as establishment of the ‘Speakers Bureau’ and ‘Honor Board’ are having a marked impact, recognized with the award to of the 2016 ‘Most Innovative Blog’ by ALiEM.

Take home messages for me? Well, in primary care we see similar issues as highlighted by FemInEM; procedural practice (emergency on call, anaesthesia, obstetrics) poses extra burdens on personal and family time. Moreover such procedural work tends to be male dominated and is generally remunerated far better. It’s not uncommon to see males in rural medicine raking in dollars by performing the lucrative procedural work…with their ability to provide such a service entirely dependent on female colleagues keeping the practice afloat by trudging through the toil of family medicine. The danger of female doctors being mired in ‘tears and smears’ whilst the men practice shorter consults, more procedures and higher turnover only contributes to income disparity. Moreover female leadership in my specialty is under-represented despite the majority of primary care clinicians being female.

Inspired by FemInEM, moves are already afoot to float a similar venture for primary care clinicians, encouraging leadership, recognition of the amazing work done and always encouraging mentorship, collaboration and self-care.

Thanks FemInEM- this was a stand out presentation amongst stiff competition. I left inspired and motivated to help drive change. The power of social media and sharing of knowledge, core to the FOAMed community was wonderfully demonstrated by you at smacc.