It’s taken us a while but finally we have entered the 21st century with our first conference website! The website has all the information you need to know about the 2016 conference and the booking system to buy your ticket. If you haven’t already, take a look at our lineup this year.
I’d like to thank our hardworking conference organization team which constitutes our president, Emma, myself and Giusi Pezzotta who has done a wonderful job on the conference website.
The blog will be a more informal area where the organizers and contributors can post updates, interviews, interesting related articles and musings to give an in depth look at the conference each year. If you would like to get to know this year’s speakers a bit more or want to take a peek behind the scenes, bookmark this page and you can return to read new articles when they appear.
I’d like to kick things off by talking about some things that we have in mind when we’re putting the conference together.
The first thing that people tend to think about when we hear about a conference is the speaker lineup. This is indeed a crucial element of the conference. We want to come up with a range of speakers and lectures that really connect with the membership but also allow us all to share in the inspiration and excitement that brought us to this great art in the first place. We face a huge number of challenges as practitioners and as a small organisation and it can be easy to be weighed down by the difficulties they present. Connecting with speakers who are full of enthusiasm for our medicine, the conference can be a way that we as a community can focus more on its limitless potential rather than current obstacles. This is one of the reasons why we have tried to find speakers like Dr Hung-Rong Yen and Simon Becker who are doing pioneering work in pushing the cause of Chinese Herbal Medicine forward both academically and clinically. Their example shows us that it is possible to achieve great things and demonstrate very categorically the vital relevance CHM has to modern medicine.
The next aspect we look for in speakers is range. We have a diverse membership and Chinese Herbal Medicine is a diverse discipline. We want to try and represent that by matching it with an equally diverse range of speakers and topics. We want to make sure that every year we have a good number of lectures that have tangible clinical take-away benefit to our members. At the same time, we want to be open to thought-provoking lectures that enhance our general understanding and context for this subject, which enhance our clinical skills more indirectly. We want to attract big names to the conference, people who are in demand and setting the global conference circuit alight, but we also want to hear from our lesser-known but equally talented members. Every year we try to include well-respected, experienced and knowledgeable RCHM members who have so much to share but are not so often heard from. Not only can we all benefit from the great talent pool that constitutes our membership but we can feel more connected to our fellow members.
Last year we began a feature with our conference which is fairly unique to the RCHM, the full day Sunday lecture. Conferences can be a great way to see multiple speakers at a competitive price and get a good sense of many topics and ideas. However, as we are all aware, very often the real benefit is attained by being able to go deep into one subject with a single speaker. The aim with our conference is to incorporate the best of both worlds. During the Saturday conference day (and with the benefit of streaming video after the event), attendees can go to 5 lectures packed with interesting and useful content. The Sunday full day lecture, this year with Simon Becker lecturing on cancer support, is a chance to really get our teeth into the subject material.
The speaker lineup is important but even more important to us as organizers, the conference is about bringing our community together. This is the time where you get to meet, learn from and socialize with the people who share the same passion as you do. More importantly, this is the opportunity where other people get to meet you! Sometimes, it doesn’t occur to us that coming to the conference is more than what you can get out of it. It is also about showing up and allowing other members to connect to you and the wider community. This is particularly helpful for students and new practitioners. Growing our organization is vital for our survival and for the survival of CHM in the UK. Enabling newer members to feel part of the community and connected to the organization is an important function of the conference and is a natural by-product of the weekend. I remember my first conference, making friends with members that I’d never met before and also meeting some of my Chinese medicine heroes and people who had written the books I’d used for years was really the highlight of the day for me. Being engaged in our community doesn’t necessarily mean devoting lots of time and energy to different RCHM projects, it can be simple as just showing up and being you!
Last year, after the AGM we had our first ‘Group Sharing Session’ (which we are repeating this year). It was a chance to sit around in small groups and discuss issues that we have in our practice and also solutions and successes that we have come up with. I was blown away by the kind of information and inspiration that came out of it. Sometimes we forget that our job comprises of solving numerous problems every day in our own unique way. Listening to the novel solutions that people have for the problems that we all face made me realise that we are only scratching the surface of the potential that we have if we come together as a group.
This is why we feel that the break times are just as important as the lectures! It is a time not only to meet other members but also show our suppliers some love! They are an integral part of our community and we wouldn’t exist without them. As you all know, they continually face very difficult challenges. They come to the conference, of course, to promote their business, but we often forget that they just want to hear from us too. They want your feedback, they want to put names to faces and they also want to connect and feel part of our community. We have wanted to help showcase our member talents too so we have run the Chinese herbal snack competition for the last few years.
The first and foremost goal of the conference is to serve and benefit our members whatever that might mean. Hence, your feedback and ideas are extremely important to us. We are always looking to improve, so if you think there are things that you would like us to do or to do better please let us know. You can email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org . I hope to see you all at the conference this year!
Conference Organization Team