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Event focus: DotMED

What do a doctor rapper, an undertaker author and Dragons’ Den have in common? They all feature in dotMED 2014, a medical conference with a difference

dotMED was developed by Dr Muiris Houston, GP and well-known medical journalist with the Irish Times, and Dr Ronan Kavanagh, consultant rheumatologist and medical innovator.

Now in its third year, dotMED, as Dr Kavanagh explained, was born out of being “a little bored” with traditional medical conferences. “To my mind, a lot of what is exciting in medicine is happening in the spaces between medicine and other disciplines and yet this is almost never dealt with by scientific medical meetings,” he said.

It is this space between medicine and other disciplines, such as technology and the humanities, that dotMED aims to examine, in a manner that challenges doctors to think about their profession in a very different way. “The meeting explores the interfaces between medicine, technology and the humanities – and in doing so Muiris Houston and I hope to inspire and reawaken a curiosity in doctors that tends to become a little eroded over time with the demands of patient care,” Dr Kavanagh added.

The 2014 event will also feature a Dragons’ Den-style pitching competition, where new health technology startups will be invited to pitch their latest ideas

dotMED 2014 takes place on Friday, 5 December in Smock Alley Theatre in the heart of Dublin. This year’s keynote speaker is Dr Zubin Damania, also known as ZDoggMD, a rapper doctor from Las Vegas in the US. Yes, you read that correctly, a doctor who is also a talented rapper. Dr Damania has worked as a busy hospital doctor and trainer while simultaneously performing stand-up comedy. He has made more than 50 videos, under his alter ego ZDoggMD, which have amassed more than a million views on YouTube. He records parodies of well-known songs to deliver public health messages such as the importance of the flu vaccine.

Dr Damania uses humour and medicine to educate both patients and doctors while also satirising the US healthcare system. For example, his performance of It’s a Hard Doc’s Life – a take on It’s a Hard Knock Life, originally from Annie the musical – is a parody of Jay-Z’s version of the song, and documents life as a pressurised hospital doctor in the US. The dotMED conference is a celebration of the future but also the heart of medicine. Unlike other conferences, which tend to focus on the science of medicine, dotMED explores the art of the specialty, central to which are the humanities.

In this vein, the 2014 event will hear from well-respected writers such as Kevin Barry, winner of the prestigious Impac Dublin City Literary Prize. Mr Barry is the author of the story collections Dark Lies the Island and There Are Little Kingdoms, and the novel City Of Bohane. Thomas Lynch, renowned author, poet and funeral director from Michigan in the US, will also address the event. An American with strong Irish roots, Mr Lynch writes about death and dying from the unusual perspective of an undertaker. The author of five collections of poems and four books of essays including The Undertaking, which won The American Book Award, Mr Lynch’s most recent book The Good Funeral — Death, Grief and the Community of Care, was co-authored with the theologian, Thomas G Long.

Other speakers at dotMED 2014 include Dr Louise Aronson, geriatrician and author; Marie Ennis-O’Connor, blogger and speaker with a interest in the role of social media in healthcare; Emma Barnard, an artist who specialises in fine art photography, video and sound installations; and Dr Marc Triola, Associate Dean for Educational Informatics at NYU School of Medicine, whose research and expertise includes computer-based e-learning and the use of virtual patients.

The 2014 event will also feature a Dragons’ Den-style pitching competition, where new health technology startups will be invited to pitch their latest ideas. According to Dr Kavanagh, dotMED “explores areas other meetings don’t. We like to think of it both as a mix between an arts festival, technology meeting and medical conference”. 

"Having heard so many wonderful things about the previous dotMED conferences, when we were approached by Dr Muiris Houston about some MPS support for this year’s event it was a very simple “yes”. MPS is proud to support this year’s dotMed: this is set to be yet another extremely creative event. We look forward to meeting members on the day and I will be on hand to deal with queries and distribute MPS literature." 

Rachel Lynch, MPS Senior Regional Co-ordinator (Ireland)
dotMED 2014 takes place on Friday 5 December, 2014. Spaces are limited to 170 delegates and the conference is expected to sell out early. Please register online on - 5.5 CME points available
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