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Reflections on the end of dotMD

By Dr Muiris Houston - 27th Aug 2023

dotMD

The dotMD conference may be no more, but we hope its legacy will endure

dotMD is dead – long live dotMD.

That was a difficult sentence to write. And I understand for the many ‘dotMDHeads’ out there it certainly isn’t one you want to read.

I’ve always admired sportsmen and sportswomen who have managed to move on while they were still successful. In this Rugby World Cup year, CJ Stander comes to mind. A supreme flanker, he came from South Africa to Munster to eventually represent Ireland. Then while still fit and at the top of his game he announced his retirement.

Ronan Kavanagh, Alan Coss, and I have taken the guts of a year to come to our decision. As you would expect, there are many contributors to the decision. But an obvious one didn’t even enter the equation: “Let’s get out while we are still ahead.”

In truth, especially in the early years, we shared thoughts of imposter syndrome – “We got away with it again!” Although we assiduously garnered feedback from you after each event, the real prompt to continue was a shared, hard-to-describe, feel-good feeling in our guts. For an event focused on the art of medicine, that seems appropriate.

Many times we’ve been asked how we put it all together. Well, there were no mission statements, written aims and objectives or focus groups. Just us, the three musketeers – making it up as we went along.

But that isn’t to say there wasn’t a lot of hard work. And not a little chutzpah! When we discovered the appearance fees of some our big-name speakers, it would have been easy to look elsewhere. But that would have been to deny Ronan his amazing ability to strike up a relationship with the heavy hitters. By focusing on the great experience of coming to Galway or Dublin that awaited them, he managed to find his way around hardened agents and skillfully built relationships by getting directly into the souls of those we wanted to feature most.

Early on we decided that some music would be important. Luckily for you, I wasn’t really part of this element of dotMD planning! Alan is a skilled musicologist; he and Ronan came up with some great artists who reflected what we were about.

We owe a debt to the growth of social media during dotMD’s existence. Twitter was our/your favourite. Again, Alan was to the fore here – without ever having to X anything out, even before Elon Musk took over the medium.

But enough of me yattering on about dotMD. I’d like to share some ‘dotMDHeads’ reactions to our unwelcome news: “I have loved coming to dotMD, which has always been such a rich, creative nourishing event. You created a unique community of like-minded people invested in creativity, thinking differently, and exploring the many ways in which words, pictures, music, and medicine heal both humans and health professionals. So many people including myself found their ‘tribe’ there.”

And this from one our international tribe: “What you’ve managed to put together for so many years has always seemed to me like an impossible task…. The surprise is not that you are finally retiring, but the fact that you came up, year after year, with such a unique experience. dotMD is something special, the inspiration needed to carry on in a medical world increasingly more difficult and less rewarding. Sitting there listening to incredible talks, humour, music, and art with the deep feeling of attending a spirit-lifting sensational event, coming from the very essence of medicine, has been a privilege every time. I find it difficult to explain. You’ve created a space for that intense communication….”

And I can never forget the goose-pimples that accompanied the amazing affirmation from Priscilla Lynch of this parish: “dotMD is the electric picnic of medical conferences.”

Then there was this tweet from ever supportive medical journalist, @juneshannon: “@DotMDConf was my favourite of all medical conferences, it got to the heart and the art of medicine in a unique and very special way. I was lucky enough to write about it from day one. Well done and thank you.”

I think it’s appropriate that we leave the last word to Ronan: “Running dotMD over the last 10 years has been great fun and it has been an enormous privilege to be part of the amazing community of likeminded curious medics who have gathered around it. We hope that everyone else got as much out of it as we did and hope that its legacy will endure.”

dotMD is dead – long live dotMD.

One response to “Reflections on the end of dotMD”

  1. Pat Harrold says:

    You have left the magic there. Thanks for the memories

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